An upcoming free iPhone app, FacePlant, hopes to change all of that. FacePlant is from the same folks who brought you 12seconds and Rally Up, so they had the necessary savvy to supply both the video messaging piece and the social networking feel that FacePlant provides.
Here's the concept: you sign up for a free FacePlant account, which consists of your name and iPhone 4 number. The app goes through your contacts list, and if there's anyone in that list who is registered with FacePlant, they show up on a list of contacts. If they're ready and willing to talk, their name shows up surrounded by a bright orange bar; if they're offline, their name is outlined in gray. Tapping an active (orange) name displays a dialog that asks if you want to make a FaceTime call, a voice call, or leave a video message.
When you select FaceTime Call, the phone number of the recipient is displayed briefly, along with a dialog that displays Cancel or FaceTime buttons; tapping FaceTime makes the connection. Selecting Video Message brings up the standard iPhone 4 video capture screen, and you can record a short message to send to your FaceTime buddy. Send it, and you can get back to whatever you were doing with the satisfaction of knowing that your message will be delivered.
If your friend or co-worker is off the network, leave 'em some video voice mail. Just tapping the gray bar surrounding their name brings up a dialog that gives you a choice of making a voice call or leaving them a video message. Apple came up with the idea of Visual Voicemail; FacePlant is the first Video Voice Mail that we've seen. FacePlant has one other cool feature: just like with MMS video messages, you can send and receive Video Messages over 3G.
FacePlant should be available in the App Store soon. Stay tuned to TUAW and follow us on Twitter (@TUAW) for that announcement, or click the FacePlant link that appears earlier in this post to sign up for notification of availability.