What Is FaceTime?

By: Kathryn Whitbourne  | 
FaceTime logo with two people on screen, talking.
The logo of FaceTime is pictured on an iPad's screen, on Jan. 29, 2019 in Rome. People on the right are involved in a FaceTime call. VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images

This isn't the type of "face time" you give your boss in order to avert any suspicion that you aren't working. So, what is FaceTime? It's a video chat application developed by Apple. Apple developed it on an open standard, which means that technically (no pun intended), FaceTime can be used across a range of platforms, and other manufacturers can leverage FaceTime's protocol.

However, in reality, FaceTime remains available only to users of Apple products. Specifically, you can use FaceTime from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac computer, and you'll need to be contacting someone on one of these devices as well. In this article, we'll explore how to use FaceTime — including how to make FaceTime video calls — while discussing various FaceTime features. We'll also highlight the applications and benefits of this video chatting platform.


Initiating FaceTime

For those who own Mac computers or any Apple device, the app comes built-in to your device. Simply access it by going to Settings and looking for FaceTime on your phone or tablet. You'll need to enter your Apple ID. For your Mac computer, launch the FaceTime app.

You can use FaceTime video (the standard way) which will show you and the person you're speaking to on video. You can even do a group FaceTime call that way. There is also a FaceTime Audio call setting which puts the call on audio mode only.


To make a FaceTime call, just open the app on your device and tap the "+" button on the FaceTime option and choose "Video" (or "Audio").

Group FaceTime

To do a group FaceTime, open the FaceTime app and tap the "+" button at the top of the contacts list. In the "To" field, start to type the name or number of the first person you want to call. As you type, suggestions will come up. Only names in blue can be added (names appearing in gray mean that the contact has not upgraded to OS 12.1 and so can't support group FaceTime.)

To add another person, start typing their name or number also in the "To" field. Once you have all the people added, tap the "Video" or "Audio" button to start the call. Each person in the chat gets a notification about the call.


As we said before, FaceTime only works between callers who own Apple devices. You can't place a FaceTime call to Android and Windows users because they don't have access to FaceTime. If you need to make a video call to an Android user, you'll need to use a third-party app like WhatsApp or Skype.

FaceTime Applications

Beyond its primary use for personal conversations, FaceTime use has expanded into various sectors. In education, teachers and tutors utilize it for one-on-one sessions, offering a more personal touch to distance learning. The healthcare industry has adopted FaceTime for telemedicine consultations, allowing patients to receive medical advice without leaving their homes.

Furthermore, FaceTime has proven invaluable for remote work, enabling team meetings and collaboration across different locations. Its ease of use, coupled with the integration into Apple devices, ensures a seamless communication experience. Additionally, creative professionals use FaceTime for virtual photoshoots and interviews, showcasing its versatility beyond traditional communication bounds.


The FaceTime Video Call Is Just the Beginning

FaceTime's benefits extend well beyond simple video calling, transforming it into a pivotal tool for modern communication. Its high-definition video quality ensures that interactions are not just connected but also clear and engaging, making conversations feel more intimate and less distant.

The real-time aspect fosters a sense of immediacy and presence, crucial for maintaining personal relationships over long distances. For families separated by miles, FaceTime provides a lifeline, enabling grandparents to witness their grandchildren's first steps or share in birthday celebrations, despite geographical barriers.


In the business realm, FaceTime enhances collaboration, allowing for more nuanced communication than traditional phone calls or emails. The ease of initiating a FaceTime call directly from messages or emails streamlines connectivity, making it more spontaneous and efficient.

Finally, accessibility features, such as sign language compatibility, ensure that it is inclusive, offering a communication platform for those who might be left behind by other technologies. Overall, FaceTime's integration into everyday devices, coupled with its user-friendly interface, underlines its value in creating and sustaining meaningful connections across various spheres of life.

This article was updated in conjunction with AI technology, then fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.


Facetime FAQs

Can you FaceTime on Android?
Android users do not have the ability to use FaceTime because the service is only available for iPhone users. However, there are alternatives to FaceTime that are just as good, including Skype, Google Duo, WhatsApp and Zoom.
What does FaceTiming mean?
Facetiming means to chat to someone over a videocall. This is an iPhone service but the term has expanded to become more generic.
Are FaceTime calls free?
Yes. FaceTime does not go through phone networks, which means it does not constitute as a typical phone call. Apple does not charge a fee for making or receiving these calls. Using FaceTime will require an internet connection, and that may result in a charge.
Can I FaceTime on my computer?
FaceTime is not available on PCs or Windows. It is an Apple product and has not been made available as an open standard. However, if you have a Mac computer, which is part of the Apple universe, you can FaceTime. PC alternatives to FaceTime include Zoom and Google Duo.
How do I start FaceTime?
Simply open the FaceTime app on your device, tap on the plus button, and then choose Video. This will let you start video calls with friends in your network. You can also do audio calls without using your camera.