FaceTime gets tons of new features with iOS 15. Android users can join FaceTime calls
Apple's WWDC 2021 just kicked off with some exciting news about iOS 15 — FaceTime is getting a much-needed rehash, with features that will expand your video calls and help you share a lot more with your friends.
OK, let's start from the top!
Apple thought about group calls and how they feel kind of "flat" — all your friends are these squares on your device's screen and they all sound the same. To bring a more realistic and spatial feel to group FaceTime calls, Apple is now introducing Spatial Audio to the app. Basically, each friend in the call will have their own "place" in the virtual space and their voice will come out from a different spot in the stereo field.
Obviously, this feature will work better with AirPods Pro and AirPods Max, but we also expect it will sound OK on the stereo speakers of the iPad Air (2020) or any iPad Pro. And hey, an iPhone's stereo sound is not too shabby either.
Voice Isolation and Wide Spectrum
Not all of us have the luxury of taking FaceTime calls in perfect, silent conditions. Whenever you are on a call while in a noisy environment, you can turn on a brand-new Voice Isolation toggle. FaceTime will leverage AI and frequency science to focus in on your voice and block out ambient noises.
Conversely, if you want to share something that needs more dynamics and better frequency capture, the new Wide Spectrum mode will enhance the microphone's gain and capture settings. Presumably, you will be able to share that new acoustic song you've been learning with your pals over FaceTime.
You've seen what Portrait Mode does in the Camera app. Well, it's now coming to FaceTime. Basically, the background will be blurred and the only focus will be on you. Perfect for professional calls where you don't necessarily want your living room to be a topic of conversation.
Call scheduling, links, and FaceTime on Android
To bring FaceTime in line with the many other video call apps, you can now set up meetings with room links for specific dates and times. The room can be shared via Calendar, iMessage, or you can just copy and paste a link to it for your friends.
FaceTime across devices
Here's the kicker — anyone with the link will be able to join your FaceTime room. And by anyone, I mean Android and PC users — they will get a web-based version of the video call!
A pretty big update to FaceTime is Shareplay — you can share your screen, you can watch TV shows perfectly in sync with your friends, or listen to playlists together. Let's start with the simplest one:
We've all used screenshots and screen recordings to share what's on our screen and help a relative with their iPhone's Settings. Screen-sharing takes this further by letting you take them through the process in real time, step by step.
Sharing music through Shareplay is a great way to experience a cool new album or build a playlist of favorites with your friends. The FaceTime call will keep going, but you will also be listening to your mutual playlist in high quality. Anyone in the call has the control to add songs or play / pause / skip song.
TV show sharing will let you experience your favorite movies together — your screen is taken up by the show, and a small facecam square will show you your friend's selfie cam footage, so you can still share reactions and thoughts about the latest episode. Or, you can watch the show on your Apple TV while the FaceTime call is still open on your phone — everyone still watches in sync.
Sharing media in FaceTime calls will need anyone participating to have an active subscription to the service that the media is streamed from. But it's not locked to Apple TV and Apple Music!
Apple has released a 3rd party API and there are a lot of partners already joining up to enable Shareplay on FaceTime — from Disney+ to TikTok!
Current SharePlay partners
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