One of the most exciting things about the NEW 4th generation iPod touch is the addition of both a front facing camera and rear camera. As you would expect with the rear camera you can shoot stills and HD video. However, with the front facing camera you also get to use FaceTime to make FREE video calls over the internet to other iPod touch and iPhone 4 users. Let's face it, there are people that will never buy an iPhone. The reasons people usually give are things like "I hate AT&T", "I'm happy with my current carrier", "I'm happy with my current phone", etc. However, in more cases than not those same people usually buy iPod touch devices to use the thousands of Apps out there. Now if you buy a NEW iPod touch you're that much closer to having an iPhone without a contract or monthly fees. There were already a slew of ways of using an iPod touch as a phone while in a WiFi area with various VoIP apps. FaceTime on the iPod touch now gives you a native way to do it with video to boot. Although I have an iPhone 4, I use the iPod touch as my "iPod" when I want to dock it and listen to music while still using my phone for other things. I was happy with my 2nd generation iPod touch and saw no reason to go to the 3rd generation, but when I saw all the new features on the 4th generation I decided it was time to upgrade. While I love the Retina display, new slimmer body, 32GB capacity (my old one was 16GB), faster processor and HD video camera I'm most excited about FaceTime for friends and family members. Let's take a look at how it works:
FaceTime is an App
Unlike the iPhone 4, there is no "Phone" app to integrate FaceTime into on the touch. Therefore on the iPod touch FaceTime is a dedicated built-in App. When you want to make FaceTime calls you launch the App. If there are people you FaceTime with on a regular basis you can add them to the App's Favorites for quick access. Also the App does NOT need to be running to receive calls. When someone calls you, the iPod touch will detect the incoming call and start ringing no matter which App you're currently running.
Getting Started: No phone number?
Since the iPod touch is not a phone there is no phone number for the device. Apple has made it so that you can use your Apple ID and an email address of your choice to setup FaceTime. I was happy to see that they allow you to use any email address you want because people don't always give out the email address associated with their Apple ID as their main email address. You log in with your Apple ID and password and then enter the email address that you want to associate with FaceTime. Any other iPhone 4 (running iOS 4.1 or higher) or 4th gen iPod touch user can then make calls to you with via that email address as long as your device is on and within the range of a WiFi area. iPhone 4 users will need to upgrade to iOS 4.1 in order to make FaceTime calls to email addresses.
I'm very impressed with how well this works. I've been using FaceTime from iPhone 4 to iPhone 4 since day one, and adding the iPod touch into the mix was an equally great experience. The camera quality is good and the sound quality is equally as good. The only "odd" thing that I've run into is that the only way to initiate a FaceTime call is from an existing contact. You can't just key in a one time phone number or email address. You would have to first setup the person as a contact in your Address Book and then you can make a FaceTime call to them.
The Bottom Line
If you're not in the market for an iPhone, then this is the device for you. It's the closest thing to having an iPhone without the contract or monthly fees. You'll also be open to more Apps than ever before. There were lots of Apps on the App store in the past that wouldn't work on an iPod touch because it lacked a camera. Now that the iPod touch has one, you'll have more choices in Apps from here on out. FaceTime is the killer App! Making FREE video calls to anyone with an iPhone 4 or 4th generation iPod touch is huge. Now when I travel abroad I make FaceTime calls back home for the cost of a hotel WiFi connection, which in many cases is free with the room.
With FaceTime being on the NEW iPod touch you'll have many more people that you can FaceTime with than ever before. Hopefully the rumors are true and we'll see FaceTime make its way onto computers soon too.
Get a 32GB iPod touch cheaper here (don't waste time with the 8GB model. You'll only wish you had gone with the 32GB later)