Video conferencing seems to be a lock for the next iPhone at this point as more and more evidence from the SDK continues to mount.  What we found in the 3.1 SDK (which was subsequently removed) pales in comparison to the truckloads of information in the 4.0 betas:

We’ve found references to moderators, chat rooms, encrypted video conferences and other features which could be even be used by developers in the future to add video chat to gaming applications, perhaps with ties to Gamecenter.  

First, we have the conference.framework folder which shows the sounds that will be used to alert an iPhone 4.0 user about an incoming Video Chat Request. We’ve played them and they are the same sounds as the iChat Mac application. 

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In the CoreLocalizable.strings below you can see  Video/Chat Room/Moderator/Encryption strings:

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This Property List within an Apple Private Framework displays the default calls the iChat App will need to make. There are some strings within this Plist which are unique to the iPhone OS and aren’t found in iChat for Mac. Most notably, Chat Rooms and Moderation.  Our Speculation? Think the upcoming Game Center. Imagine being able to video/audio chat with the people you are playing the game with. How cool would that be?

If Apple is going to be hosting Chat Rooms, they’ll need to be some moderation to fit the needs of Apple and its wholesome brand. Apple would never tolerate a ChatRoulette type of experience their network.

At the moment, this is a private framework. This is something that Apple is using themselves in their native applications, and is something developers won’t be able to access.

However, this chat framework could very well become public in the future of iPhone OS. For Example, In-App SMS is a framework Apple has been privately using since 1.0, now in 4.0 developers can publicly use it. If/When this Chat Framework goes public, there could be an influx of Chat-related apps in the App Store (probably including thousands of Chatroulette clones).

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The above strings indicate what video conferencing on an iPhone will include: One-on-One video chats and video conference calling (multiple people).

Apple is also testing Apple iPhone video conferencing services and already has an external server which is open for external testing. 

Since the 4.0 firmware only somewhat supports it, we don’t know how to operate it or the syntax, but one module that is up and running on the server is what kicks off the process, the VCInit module, here: https://17.254.3.138/WebObjects/VCInit.woa/wa/  (expect it to be taken down shortly after this goes public)

Apple is also testing the Video Chat on three different servers on their private intranet, but that is obviously not accessible from the outside world.

Finally, we’ve heard separately that the iPad and likely the iPod touch will receive video camera updates in the Fall when the 4.x OS goes Universal.  The timing would make sense for the normal iPod touch yearly updates.  The iPad, until then won’t have access to these camera strings, so it won’t have much use for a camera.  Apple’s secrecy in building the iPad likely kept the iChat group out of the loop.  Without them, there was no need for a camera on the first iPad.

Thanks for the help Will!


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