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Apple today showed previews of its FaceTime video chat, adding the ability to schedule calls with multiple attendees and making the software compatible with Android and Windows devices.
For the first time, FaceTime calls will extend beyond Apple devices with the ability to create a link from iPhone, iPad, or Mac, and share it through Messages, Calendar, Mail, or third-party apps, so anyone can join a FaceTime call from their web browser on Android and Windows devices. Users with non-Apple devices can join using the latest version of Chrome or Edge.
Sending video requires H.264 video encoding support and FaceTime calls on the web remain end-to-end encrypted, so privacy is not compromised.
A schedule call option, really takes on Zoom, meaning that iOS 15 will allow you to schedule a FaceTime video or audio call with a group, regardless of what device they are on.
Apple announced a number of other FaceTime updates coming in iOS 15, too. There’s a new grid view option, a voice isolation feature to improve sound quality, spatial audio support, and the option to blur your background with “portrait mode.”
Features such as background blurring and audio improvements Craig Federighi, Apple’s software chief, said were aimed at making video calls capture the nuances of in-person conversation.
“When talking on a video call, many of those signals can get lost, leaving us feeling drained,” Federighi said.
There’s also a major new feature called SharePlay. SharePlay will let a group of people watch or listen to the same thing at once. The feature lets you pull in songs, videos, or share your screen. Some major names are on board to support the feature, including Disney Plus, Hulu, HBO Max, and Twitch. Naturally, Apple Music and Apple TV Plus support it.
Virtual watch parties became popular during the pandemic, and SharePlay really dives into that. The feature shows Apple hoping to make FaceTime into more of a hangout space and not just a way to make convenient video calls with your relatives.
The new FaceTime features are expected to to be available with iOS 15, which should start rolling out this fall.