The line Apple set up for users toÂ test out FaceTime is a great idea, but it might be leading to something bigger. The rep I spoke with mentioned that this is a trial for video calls with AppleCare.
If feedback is positive, I was told, you might soon have the option to call tech support using Facetime. Apparently they’ve been toying with the idea for some time. I don’t always feel like getting dressed every time I pick up the phone, but this could be incredibly useful, especially when Apple finally gets around to integrating Facetime with iChat. Imagine being able to show someone exactly what you mean by “my iMac’s screen isÂ STILL yellow.”
1-888-FACETIME has been live since yesterday, and demand has gone from one call every couple of hours to phones ringing non-stop. Everyone I spoke to expected demand to grow tremendously as more and more people receive their iPhones. The staff are using a mix of iPhone 4s and pre-production units to make the calls. When asked if they had encountered any Chatroullete-like indecency, one rep replied, “I haven’t had anything yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised. I knew the job was dangerous when I signed up.”
There are also some privacy issues to consider. Calling into 1-888-FACETIME already includes a warning not to record the conversation. Tech support calls are often recorded, but this probably needs to change for video calling. The relevant privacy laws all vary by state, so Apple definitely has some legal hurdles to clear before you can start video chatting with tech support regularly.