What Is FaceTime on the iPad?

The beauty of FaceTime, the video chat app on the iPad 2 and third-generation iPad, is that it lets you connect. FaceTime exploits the two cameras built into the devices, each serving a different purpose. The front camera lets you talk face to face. The back camera shows the person you’re talking to what you’re seeing.

You can come up with a lengthy list of people you’d love to be able to see in real time from afar. Maybe it’s your old college roommate. Maybe it’s your old college sweetheart. And maybe it’s your grandparents, who’ve long since retired to warm climates somewhere.

To take advantage of FaceTime, here’s what you need:

  • Access to Wi-Fi: And the people you’re talking to need Internet access, too. On an iOS device, you need Wi-Fi. On a Mac, you need an upstream or downstream Internet connection of at least 128 Kbps. You also need at least a 1-Mbps upstream and downstream connection for HD-quality video calls.

  • FaceTime: On your conversation partner’s own second- or third-generation iPad, on an Intel-based Mac computer (OS X 10.6.6 or later), on a recent-model iPod touch, or on an iPhone 4 or 4S (FaceTime first appeared on Apple’s prized smartphone).

The iPad’s large inviting screen would seem to be made for FaceTime, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that some critics have been underwhelmed by the quality of the cameras. We think the cameras do just fine for FaceTime, at least with halfway decent lighting and a robust Wi-Fi connection.

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