In a little more than 24 hours I’ll be on a plane to go to work in Jersey City from Monday through Friday. This is one of the more painful aspects of my chosen career because of the heavy travel requirements and time away from home. Slowly but surely I have introduced a ton of iOS devices into my family so that now everyone has at least one. The one killer feature for me when I’ve been traveling over the past year has been FaceTime plus my3G. My family is young so seeing them is one of the bright spots in my day. I try to do FaceTime calls in the morning when my wife and daughter get up in the morning before I go to work so I’m in a decent mood for my first meeting. I remember before I had a daughter and before FaceTime that my wife and I barely spoke on the phone at all while I was traveling. We mostly did things by text message since it was unobtrusive and we were both normally distracted when we talked on the phone.
FaceTime has changed that a lot. Now I try and use it when I can with my wife when I travel because I also get to see my daughter too. I think them best feature is that it makes you focus on the person you’re talking to because they can see if you’re paying attention or not. I have even gotten on calls with my father in Hawaii and he appreciates the ability to see his grand daughter over thousands of miles like she is right there. While not really a new technology, FaceTime has tied you phone number and your device together. A lot of people also use Skype but they have to be on to make a call. Using FaceTime is as easy as picking up a phone for me but of course the person on the other side has to be using an iDevice too but since I only use this with family this is not a big deal to me.
One of the big reasons that I jailbreak my device is an app called My3G. This is a tweak I paid for t let me do FaceTime calls over my 3G connection rather than having to us wifi. Way back when I first got my iPhone 4S, iOS 5 only let you do FaceTime calls over wifi because it is a data hog. To get around this limitation I jailbroke my phone so I can FaceTime anywhere I have a 3G connection. This is especially useful in hotels because their wifi networks are weak and I probably wouldn’t be able to use FaceTime anyway. With the recent release of iOS 6, the carriers let people start using their 3G and 4G connections for FaceTime. The rub was that you had to be on a tiered data plan. For a person like me who is on an unlimited data plan, that’s a real deal breaker. I intend to keep my unlimited data plan and jailbreak my iPhone for as long as I can to even out my work/life balance.
There are others that I have used FaceTime with but they are all restricted due to wifi so sometimes it’s not the best way to contact someone which is why I just use it with my family. I just updated my Facebook app and its starting to off free voice calls in the US and Canada. I know the is also Google+ hangouts but no one save one person actually uses Google+. I’m glad that I was able to re-jailbreak my phone before I left to travel again, at least that keeps my FaceTime capability with my family intact while preserving my unlimited data plan.