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FaceTime on iPhone 4 is Disabled in the ME

UAE : 20 October 2010

Upgrade to the iOS disallows video calls on the iPhone 4

The FaceTime feature on the new iPhone 4 allows any user to make a video call to another iPhone user, unless the devices were purchased in the UAE, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar or Saudi Arabia.

Steve Jobs played up the FaceTime feature and claimed it would ignite a craze for video calling around the world.  National Apple sites boasted the application as a leading feature for the new mobile device right up until last month.  That was when the FaceTime application began to disappear from the sites of certain regions.  Currently, the feature is not available on iPhones and iPod Touch devices purchased in those countries.

Specialty sites have been keeping tabs and recording which countries are offering phones with the exclusion of FaceTime.  The story of Saudi lawyer Nayef Almansi, who is involved in a lawsuit against the local operator who sold him an iPhone without the FaceTime service, is also being followed closely.

Apple apparently did not account for the fact that not every nation selling iPhone devices allows VoIP technology.  Also, more and more countries are requiring those firms that provide telecommunications services to present lawful intercept.  It can be said that Apple is providing those services with FaceTime, which prompted the technology giant to release iOS 4.1, an operating system upgrade from iOS 4.0.2 that will disable the FaceTime feature in certain countries.

It has been discovered by a local website following the Apple brand that the configuration settings can be altered, allowing the feature to be used.  The NOVoIP marker that blocks FaceTime has been found, as well as various other regional restrictions such as the shutter sound being unavailable in Japan and WiFi blocked in China.

Those who import the mobile devices will still have the ability to use FaceTime.  Since it is operated on WiFi, the application cannot be blocked through the network.  Those devices will not be able to conduct video calls with iPhones bought in the Middle East.

Some say that this latest challenge for Apple is evidence that they are not plugged in locally and are concentrated only on Western ideals and pursuits.  Others state that the Middle East countries should not be able to place these restrictions on their residents.  However, nations in the West are set to follow the examples of Eastern nations and demand lawful intercept, which could spell more trouble for FaceTime worldwide.

Andrew Reid, Staff Writer, Gulf Jobs Market News
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