Apple brings tons of cool new features to FaceTime with software updates for iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey. It makes perfect sense because video calls are more popular today than ever thanks to COVID.
These new additions allow you to do a lot more during video calls and to go a long way towards improving the socializing from the comfort of your home. And if you don't have an Apple device, we've got a surprise for you too.
So let's take a look at six new FaceTime features in iOS 15 and macOS Monterey.
1. FaceTime Watch Parties with SharePlay
This is arguably the biggest feature Apple is adding to FaceTime. Starting with iOS 15 and macOS Monterey, you can start a watch party in FaceTime calls. To use SharePlay while on an active call, all you need to do is launch a streaming app that supports the SharePlay API and press play.
The best part? The shared content remains perfectly synchronized for all participants in the call. So you don't have to keep asking her if you're watching the same scene as her.
You can also start a music listening experience together from FaceTime. For example, you can press Play while on a call in Apple Music to share content with everyone. Others can add songs to the queue or control playback as they see fit.
Big names in the entertainment industry like Disney +, Hulu, HBO Max, Twitch, and more will be supporting SharePlay at launch. Any interested developer can access the SharePlay API and incorporate this functionality into their own apps.
2. FaceTime becomes cross-platform
If you're not an Apple user, this may be the greatest feature FaceTime has with the software updates for iOS 15 and macOS Monterey. Yes, that's the surprise we mentioned earlier. FaceTime is finally finding its way to non-Apple devices.
Let's see how it works, okay?
Apple users can now generate a FaceTime link that they can share with literally anyone they want. Clicking this link on a non-Apple device will launch a web browser (Chrome or Edge) and take you to the FaceTime web where you can join the call from your non-Apple device.
Before you ask, no, you can't create a FaceTime link without an Apple device.
Even though FaceTime calls are available on the internet, they are still safe thanks to end-to-end encryption. Nobody expected Apple to take this step, but it's safe to say that COVID has changed the company's perspective.
Thanks to the new calendar integration, you can also generate FaceTime web links while creating events in the Calendar app. In this way, your colleagues know exactly when and where they have to meet for the scheduled online meetings.
3. The portrait mode comes on FaceTime
We all know and love the portrait mode on the iPhone. Now Apple is bringing it to FaceTime calling, too, and we're all for it. Whether you have a Mac, iPhone, or iPad, FaceTime uses software-based video effects to blur the background and bring focus to you.
What an easy way to hide your messy bedroom or work space right?
Unfortunately, not all iOS 15 and macOS Monterey compatible devices support this feature. If you have an iPhone or iPad, you need a model with the Apple A12 Bionic Chip or higher. In other words, at least an iPhone XR or the 8th generation iPad.
If you are a Mac user unfortunately we have to say that all Intel based models are not supported. Apple needs the M1 chip for this functionality to work in macOS Monterey.
4. Spatial audio to make FaceTime sound real
You've probably heard of Spatial Audio for Apple Music, but you might be wondering what the use of this feature on FaceTime calls. Well, Apple intends to make group video calls sound more natural with the introduction of iOS 15 and macOS Monterey.
Spatial Audio distributes all of the individual voices and the sounds come from the direction that each person is on your screen. You might find this feature hard to notice on an iPhone because it has a small screen, but it's definitely worth paying attention to if you're an iPad or Mac user.
Just like Portrait Mode, Apple limits this feature to certain devices. You need an iPhone or iPad with an A12 Bionic Chip or newer. Fortunately, you don't need an M1 Mac for this, as all models from 2018 are supported.
5. Voice isolation and wide spectrum modes
These are two different features that will affect the performance of your microphone on FaceTime calls. Let's start with language isolation first. This mode uses machine learning to block out background noise during a video call and ensure that your voice is loud and clear no matter how loud your surroundings are.
The wide spectrum mode, on the other hand, works in reverse. Sometimes someone else is nearby during a call and you want them to be heard too. Or you play music in the background and want it to be heard. You can choose the Wide Spectrum mode to ensure that your microphone picks up every sound in your room.
6. Grid view
Finally, we have a little feature that deserves some attention. Once you've updated to iOS 15 or macOS Monterey, you can use the new grid view during Group FaceTime calls.
With so many people on a FaceTime group call, it can be difficult to keep track of who is talking. The grid view shows all participants in tiles of the same size, with the active speaker highlighted with a frame.
On the iPad and Mac, you can see up to 18 faces in a grid at the same time. However, you are limited to only 6 faces on the iPhone, but you can blame the much smaller screen for this limitation.
FaceTime has never looked this good
It's been years since FaceTime saw such a big update. Note, however, that not all devices support all of the functions listed here. Hardware restrictions prevent Apple from implementing key features like Portrait Mode and Spatial Audio on older devices.
Regardless, you can look forward to the FaceTime makeover, even if you are an Android or Windows user. And if you don't have the patience to wait, check out the beta builds for iOS 15 and macOS Monterey right now.
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About the author
(27 published articles)
Hamlin is a full time freelance writer who has worked in the field for over four years. Since 2017 his work has appeared on OSXDaily, Beebom, FoneHow and others. In his spare time, he either trains in the gym or takes big strides in the crypto room.
By Hamlin Rozario
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