Definition

FaceTime

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Advanced guide to managing iOS devices

FaceTime is an Apple video telephony application that allows users to engage in one-on-one video chatting over the internet. Apple FaceTime runs on iOS devices with front-facing cameras; each chat participant must have FaceTime installed.

The FaceTime app comes preloaded on iOS devices and with all Mac OS X versions starting with Lion. Mac users running older versions of OS X can download FaceTime from the Mac App Store for $0.99.

Requirements

FaceTime requires an Apple ID and is only accessible on iOS devices. The following devices can access FaceTime over a Wi-Fi connection: iPhone 4 or later, iPad 2 or later, iPad mini, iPod Touch fourth generation or later. Starting with iOS 6, Apple allowed users to make FaceTime calls over 3G and 4G networks on iPhone 4s or later and third-generation or later iPads. 

How to FaceTime

To turn on FaceTime, users open the app and sign in using an Apple ID; they can also sign in through the device settings. Users can also register their email addresses by signing on. On iPhones, FaceTime automatically registers users' phone numbers.

There are several options to place a FaceTime call. Users open the FaceTime app, enter the other person's phone or email address, then tap the video or audio icons. On an iPhone, users can start a FaceTime call during a phone call by tapping on the FaceTime icon. Users may also initiate FaceTime through the iOS Contacts app.

Users can also opt to block phone numbers in the FaceTime app settings. FaceTime does not support video conferencing or multicaller chatting -- only one-on-one video calls.

FaceTime on the Apple iPhone
FaceTime allows users to conduct one-on-one video chats over wireless or cellular networks.

History of FaceTime

Then-CEO Steve Jobs announced FaceTime at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in June 2010, in conjunction with the release of the iPhone 4. Apple purchased the trademarked name "FaceTime" from the company FaceTime Communications, which later changed its name to Actiance.

FaceTime made its official debut in the Mac App Store in February 2011. In March 2011, Apple included FaceTime with the newly launched iPad 2, which also features a rear- and forward-facing camera.

With the 2013 release of iOS 7, Apple added audio-only capabilities to FaceTime. This feature, FaceTime Audio, allows users to make voice calls to other users over cellular or wireless data networks.

In iOS 8, FaceTime on iPhone gained a call-waiting feature, giving users the option to respond to incoming calls during another conversation.

This was last updated in March 2017

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