Make no doubt about it, Apple very clearly said they were going to do this. Steve Jobs himself said so at WWDC 2010, around 1:36:45 on the video:
Now FaceTime is based on a lot of open standards: H.264 video, AAC audio, and a bunch of alphabet soup acronyms. And we’re going to take it all away. We’re going to the standards bodies, starting tomorrow, and we’re going to make FaceTime an open industry standard.
“Starting tomorrow”? Nearly a year later, there’s no indication this process has started. The Wikipedia page on FaceTime says no draft has yet been published with any of the various standards bodies. Moreover, the Mac and iOS versions use a client-side certificate as part of their authentication, meaning that a third-party implementation wouldn’t be able to connect to the network of Apple FaceTime clients anyways.
For what it’s worth, I’ve filed a documentation bug against this, rdar://9407759 , duped to Open Radar. Don’t hold your breath of course… I filed rdar://4411484 in January, 2006 asking for the Enhanced Podcast format to be publicly documented… it was closed with a “thanks for your feedback” comment in March, 2007.
Whatever the holdup is, I’m not convinced it’s intentional, or permanent. Researching this, I found one of the only references to “FaceTime” in Apple’s documentation is for the iOS Core Audio AUVoiceProcessingIO audio unit, which is used for VoIP and in-game chat. The
kVoiceIOFarEndAUVersion_ThirdParty parameter has the following documentation:
Set the farEndAUVersion field of the VoiceIOFarEndVersionInfo struct to this value if the remote end is a 3rd-party device following open FaceTime standards.
Moreover, it was added in iOS 4.2, which came out in November, 2010. So up to at least that date, third-party FaceTime clients were being planned for.
And if we can continue our Apple Kremlinology just a little further. There’s something I’ve noticed missing on the coreaudio-api list recently: the Apple engineers. They’re usually very generous with their time and assistance, which makes coreaudio-api absolutely essential reading for anyone using the API. But look at the hit counts for our favorite engineers, William Stewart (creator of CA) and Doug Wyatt:
When Apple engineers go missing on the lead-up to WWDC, it usually means they’re up to something. And this has been a long outage… what the heck are they working on?