Apple’s Macs Bid iSight Goodbye, Welcome FaceTime HD (And Low-Def FaceTime)
Published: Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Leaked packaging from Apple’s new MacBook Pro computers confirms a change that has been a long time in coming: Apple is officially changing the names of its built-in Mac cameras from “iSight” to “FaceTime,” and it’s also creating a new distinction: “FaceTime” versus “FaceTime HD.”
The first change actually didn’t take that long—Apple only introduced FaceTime for Macs in October of last year. But the second change, by which it acknowledges that some Macs have better cameras inside than others, is years in the making. Apple started to sneak higher-resolution cameras into some of its Mac computers three years ago without advertising the change. Old iSights used 640x480 resolution, just like FaceTime on the iPhone 4 and iPod touch 4G. But newer iSights—at least, some of them—more than quadruple the resolution to 1280x1024, or 1.3 Megapixels. Apple builds the better iSights into most of its computers, but not the MacBook Air, a shortcoming of the smaller laptop that the company hasn’t been keen to publicize up until now.
New MacBook Pro boxes show that Apple is going to refer to the Mac’s built-in camera as “FaceTime HD,” which we can guess will be the same as the underpublicized 1280x1024 better iSight cameras—just a marketing and name change. Yes, it’s possible (and possibly great!) that Apple would use this as an opportunity to upgrade Mac cameras across the board, potentially just improved-sensitivity backlit sensors that would perform better in dimly-lit rooms, or maybe even a significantly higher resolution sensor with a better lens, like the ones in Logitech’s Mac-ready HD Pro Webcam C910. Any of these changes would make indoor video calling over FaceTime considerably better than it is now.
We’ll know soon enough what Apple really means by “FaceTime HD,” but we’re not expecting radical improvements. Apple has so prioritized thinness in its recent designs that improved camera performance—which often depends upon having more room inside an enclosure in order to add autofocus capabilities, get better sensors, and the like—has always been a distant second or third priority. Expect FaceTime HD to become Apple’s new ceiling for front-facing video camera performance, and for the ceiling to stay in place for a while; giving select iOS devices similar capabilities will be the next logical step.
If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods or accessories, or if you sell or market products, read iLounge's Comments + Questions policies before posting, and fully identify yourself if you do. We will delete comments containing advertising, astroturfing, trolling, personal attacks, offensive language, or other objectionable content, then ban and/or publicly identify violators. Wondering why we're talking about something other than iPods? Check the Archives: Backstage has been here and kicking it since 2004.
- Congress passes bill to legalize phone unlocking
- Bose sues Beats over noise-canceling patents
- iLounge Game Spotlight: Modern Combat 5: Blackout
- Apps of the Week: ShipAntics, Modern Combat 5, This American Life 3.0 + more
- Report: Apple could launch own mobile wallet this fall
- Report: Apple ‘tentatively’ plans mid-September iPhone event
- Apple faces class action suit in California for labor violations
- Apple, AT&T now sending $40 checks to some iPad 3G owners
- Apple denies iOS “back door” access in new report
- Notes from Apple’s Q3 2014 earnings call
- Incipio offGRID Smart Bluetooth Low Energy-Enabled Portable 6000mAh Backup Battery
- Divoom Voombox Travel Rugged Portable Wireless Speaker
- Logitech protection+ for iPhone 5/5s and +trip
- Beats Powerbeats2 Wireless
- Incipio Steno Ultra-Thin Bluetooth Keyboard Folio for iPad Air
- OtterBox Resurgence Power Case for iPhone 5/5s
- Gumdrop Cases FoamTech Case for iPad Air
- Ztylus Camera Case + RV-2 Revolver Lens for iPhone 5/5s
- JBL Synchros Reflect In-Ear Sport Headphones
- JBL Synchros E50BT Over-Ear Headphones
- What’s New in iTunes 12
- iLounge Picks: Five Great Summer Party Speakers
- Editorial: Endings And Beginnings
- Live From CE Week 2014: Brand New iPad, iPhone + Mac Accessories!
- What’s New In iOS 8 For iPad, iPhone + iPod touch
- iLounge Multi-Editorial: WWDC 2014’s iOS 8, OS X Yosemite + More
- The Complete Guide to Apple TV Channels
- iHistory: From iPod + iTunes to iPhone, Apple TV + iPad, 2001 to 2010
- iHistory: From iPod + iTunes to iPhone, Apple TV + iPad: 2011 to Today
- Viewing only downloaded iTunes Match tracks