What Is FaceTime?

By: Kathryn Whitbourne  | 

FaceTime logo
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 FaceTime isn't about getting quality time in front of your boss; FaceTime is 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.

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.

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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 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.")

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 are in the Apple universe. You can't place a FaceTime call to an Android user and Android users 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.

Originally Published: Jul 20, 2011

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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.