iOS 15 will be launching later this year and Apple has announced a number of new enhancements that will be coming with it. Some of these include some impressive changes/improvements to FaceTime. Changes that bring FaceTime up to speed with services like Zoom, Skype, Facebook Messenger (video chat), and more.
Similar to other video call applications/services, Grid View allows everyone in your call to be equally represented on the screen. Except for the user holding the phone, of course, which would be slightly smaller and to the bottom-right. This allows you to clearly see everyone in the discussion and each box will expand slightly and feature a white outline, showing the person currently speaking. This can be seen in the main header image above.
With this enabled, FaceTime will blur out the background, leaving the caller in focus. So far, you can already see that Apple is focusing heavily on competing against features found in services like Zoom (as mentioned).
A little Atmos or DTS:X anyone? Well, it isn’t either of these but it uses the same concepts. Apple will spread the audio around so that the voice of each caller sounds like it is coming from the direction of their position on the screen. Creating a more natural conversation experience vs a bunched-up monotone delivery.
This will be quite interesting to experience the actual result of this come time. The idea makes perfect sense and borrows from ideas and technologies we have seen over the last few years at shows like CES. So it is absolutely possible to pull off. As for how well they deliver the final experience when everything releases, that we will have to wait to find out.
Machine learning is also brought in to isolate environmental sounds so that the call can focus on just your voice. In their demonstration of this, they bring in a little girl with a leaf blower during her mother’s FaceTime call. With one button, her mother isolates the sound completely and all you can hear is her voice.
Apple will also offer a “Wide-Spectrum mode” to bring everything in your environment into the call. So if you are walking through a hotel lobby and want to bring the audio into the call from a nearby jazz performer, you can do so. Then switch back to isolation and walk away so you aren’t distracting everyone else listening.
Just like Zoom, Skype, and other services, FaceTime will allow you to generate a link that allows you to share it with anyone. As long as they have the link, they will be able to join into the conversation. This leads us to a big one…
Windows and Android Support
This is something many users have been waiting a long time for. With a market so split between devices, having proprietary apps/services to share text message and video calls have limited Apple in many ways when the competition leaves itself open to all platforms. Now, this isn’t so much the case.
Users with Windows and Android will also be able to join FaceTime calls now, as long as they have a FaceTime Link. They can’t install FaceTime on their device, but they will be able to join into the conversation from a browser. It kind of sounds like Apple has put on their big boy pants and decided to join everyone else in the playground.
Then we move on to another huge feature. The ability to share content with everyone in the call. You can share music that you are listening to, or share the screen of your phone (which will be great for presentations, or if you simply want to share your Tinder use-experience with everyone), or even video.
The latter part allowing everyone in the call to watch a video together. You can even offer shared playback controls in case anyone wants to pause the content. Apple plans for supporting major streaming services like Disney+, Paramount+, HBO Max, TikTok, and more.
Suddenly, FaceTime is the one giving some of these other services a run for their money. It looks like Skype, Facebook, and others will now have to seek similar updates to some of these options (at least, the ones they don’t already support) in order to remain relevant. While services like Zoom may see a slide in market share as many Apple users will likely lean back toward FaceTime for some of the simple meetings that don’t require some of the heavier functions (like desktop sharing on a PC, digital whiteboards, etc).
This actually makes for an impressive update to the operating system and this is just involving FaceTime. There are a number of other exciting announcements, but that makes for a new story! I’d say Apple gets a cookie this round.