Apple introduced a new tool called Facetime during the launch of iPhone 4, that lets users of iOS and MacOS devices to have video chat in real time with their friends, with a pretty good image resolution. Skype recently also brought video chat facility to their mobile application. But in places where you have good wifi connectivity, and know that the person you want to call also has a Facetime supporting device, you would always want to go with Facetime, due to its better image quality, compared to Skype’s more compressed video.
But there is this one weird thing about Facetime. While on the iPod Touch, and Macbooks, you can use it instantly where ever you have access to wifi, it is not the same with iPhone. You will have to activate the service in order to use it on your iPhone. From what I’ve gathered, this activation process sends across couple of SMS messages to some Apple servers, after which, if it went well, you’ll be able to use Facetime on your iPhone.
I live in a country where iPhone isn’t officially launched. So I ordered a factory unlocked version for myself, and am using it with a carrier that isn’t officially supported by Apple (Telenor in Pakistan). This led to many problems with Facetime activation. After trying many times and spending lots of credit on SMS charges trying to activate Facetime, I came to know I can’t, on an unsupported carrier. That’s when I discovered about this nifty little tool called “MiTime“. You can download it using Cydia on a jailbroken device, and use it to activate Facetime.
But I am an iOS developer, and continuously need to have latest build of iOS running on my device. This makes it harder to have it jailbroken at all times, and MiTime isn’t always compatible with the latest version of iOS either. I lost all hope, thinking I’ll have to live with one nice feature on iPhone disabled for me. But… surprisingly, searching across web today, I found a set of instructions that are very simple in nature, and which, actually worked! Here is what I did that enabled Facetime for me:
- Make sure your iPhone is unlocked (factory, or using a tool such as ultrasn0w).
- Make sure that your own phone number is listed, complete with international code (+xxx), in your phone settings. (Settings -> Phone -> My Number)
- Disable caller ID. In my case I wasn’t allowed to, so I just skipped this. But it still worked for me.
- Turn off Facetime in settings.
- Turn your phone off, by pressing the home button and sleep button together.
- Turn your phone on again.
- Turn the caller ID on again (if you disabled it).
- Turn Facetime on.
Voila! There it was. Facetime enabled, and showing in my contacts as an option to use for calling. I tried calling my friends, none of whom was available to pick up. So I just called my own Mac from iPhone. And there it was, call received on the other side.
This is great news for those using iPhone with an unsupported carrier. Let me know how it works out for you.
P.S. Thanks to this forum post by a helpful user that allowed me to make my Facetime work.
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