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Within our family we’ve used Apple’s iChat AV for video chat since it launched in 2003. It was the first video conferencing application that worked without hassle, that managed to keep the sound and video in sync even on international calls, and that had a user interface simple enough for my mother to use.

Now Apple have released a beta of their new video chat application for the Mac, FaceTime, which works Mac-to-Mac and also allows video calls with FaceTime on the iPhone 4. It has a different way of instigating a call, using email addresses linked through an Apple ID rather than iChat’s use of AIM or Jabber, and has a simpler interface (and currently fewer features — no multi-way calling, no app sharing, no file transfers, no text messaging). I understand it uses much less bandwidth for calls; will be good to see how it develops.

Anyway, my address for FaceTime calls is toby@atkin-wright.com.