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iPad nearly had video conferencing?

Software support, hardware lacking, probably

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Developers pawing over the latest iPhone SDK have found references to a front-facing camera, and controls to manage video calls, despite the lack of announced hardware.

The latest iPhone SDK, which is also used to develop iPad applications, has references to a hasFrontCamera variable - so applications can check if the hardware exists - but developers have also found buttons for accepting and rejecting video calls, buttons that are too wide for the iPhone's screen:

Buttons for receving video calls

Image and story details from MacRumours

Video calling was supposed to be the killer function for 3G networks, but it turned out that nobody wanted it. Since then companies such as Skype have made the capability free and still there's only minimal use. Despite this apparent reality, almost all manufacturers still regard a front-facing camera as an essential feature on a 3G handset - all except Apple ,that is.

The iPhone has never had a front-facing camera, and from what Apple has said neither does the iPad - some Apple fans are predicting a surprise inclusion of such a camera at launch, though it seems more likely destined for a future model.

Video calling does have its place in keeping disparate families connected and long-distance relationships alive, but in those circumstances the connection is more room-to-room than face-to-face. Face-to-face video calling - such as a front-facing camera on a mobile phone makes possible - is just strange. However, the iPad, with a suitable stand, might be well suited for room-to-room connections, and if anyone can convince the world that it needs video calling then it's Apple. ®

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