Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Ready to Video Chat? How to Group FaceTime

You can FaceTime chat with as many as 32 different people from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, and with Apple's newest OSes, those on Android or Windows devices can join the party, too.

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Still chatting with just one person on FaceTime? That’s old-school. Since 2018, Apple’s video call tool has supported chatting with up to 32 people. Using the FaceTime or Messages app, you can call multiple people at once or add all your friends to an existing call.

Once inside the call, participants can add filters, text, Animoji, Memoji, and other effects. And with the update to iOS 15 or iPadOS 15, you can now invite people on Android or Windows devices to join the call. New audio features like spatial audio and microphone modes improve call quality, while Portrait mode allows users to blur their backgrounds and grid view can help organize the chat better.

Group FaceTime video calls are supported on the iPhone 6s or later, the iPad Pro or later, the iPad Air 2 or later, the iPad mini 4 or later, and the 5th generation iPad or later. Older devices running iOS 12.1.4 or later can participate in a group call but they’ll receive only the audio feed and no video.

Before you place your first call—especially if you wish to include Android or Windows users—make sure you’re running the latest version of the OS. Open Settings > General > Software Update on your iPhone or iPad, and your device will tell you if the operating system is up to date. If it’s not, you’ll be prompted to download and install the latest update. 

To do this on a Mac, click the Apple icon and select About This Mac. Click Software Update Upgrade Now. You may also want to ask your potential participants if they’re up to date as well.

Invite Contacts

FaceTime

To start a group video call from FaceTime on an updated Apple device, open the FaceTime app and select New FaceTime. If the person you wish to call is listed among the selected contacts, tap that person’s icon. Otherwise, enter the person’s name, phone number, or email address and select them from the results. 

If the person is in your device’s contact list, you can also tap the plus (+) icon in theTo field, select their name, and then select their phone number or email address. 

facetime contacts

You can then add multiple contacts in the To: field. If the FaceTime icon becomes grayed out, that typically means one of the participants either doesn’t have an Apple device or is still running an older OS that is incompatible with group FaceTime.

After you’ve added all the participants, tap the phone icon to place an audio call; otherwise tap the FaceTime button to place a video call.

Create a Link

create link

Apple’s iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 allow you to include Android and Windows users in your FaceTime calls. To set this up, open the FaceTime app and click the Create Link button. At the top of the sharing windows, tap Add Name to give the call a unique name. Tap OK, then choose the app or service through which you will share the link—Mail, Messages, AirDrop, etc. You can also copy the link and send it to people directly.

invite messages

If you select the New FaceTime icon and add a non-Apple device, a prompt will appear telling you to invite them through SMS. You can choose another option, but an SMS text message is the easiest way. Tap the Invite with Messages button to add them to the call.

join call

Once the link is created and sent, the call will be listed in the FaceTime app under the Upcoming section. Select the call and tap the Join button to start the call.

click link

Anyone who receives the link to your meeting can simply select the link, then enter their name and tap Continue. Now all they have to do is hit the Join button to enter the call. 

allow callers

Back on your end, you must then allow each participant into the call. Tap or swipe up on the name of the call at the bottom of the screen to see the names of people who want to join. Tap the green checkmark next to their names to allow each participant into the call.

Make a Call From iMessage 

imessage

You can also make a group FaceTime call through iMessage as long as there’s an existing message thread involving those people. Open iMessage and tap the group message thread for the people you wish to call. 

Tap the video icon at the top of the screen and select Video. The FaceTime call is then placed to everyone in that message thread and the active call will display in your conversation. Each person must tap the notification to join the call.

Add Participants During a Live Call 

add participants

Forgot to invite someone? You can add people after the call has already started. To do this, kick off the call with at least one other participant. Tap the screen and tap or swipe on the name of the call among the icons at the bottom. 

Select Add People, then enter the name or number of the person or tap the plus (+) icon to see your contacts and select who you want to call. Once you’ve found the person, tap Add People or choose the Invite with Messages option if the person doesn’t own an Apple device.

Change Call Layouts

facetime group

Most of us probably won’t be chatting with upwards of 30 people on a FaceTime call; it’s hard enough keeping track of the conversation even with a half dozen people. This will differ based on the view you select for the call.

By default, everyone is placed in their own floating thumbnail windows. The person currently speaking is highlighted and appears at the top of the screen, while the other participants show up below. Caller windows are resized based on activity, including how long the person is speaking, the volume of speech, and the person’s movement. You can also tap a person to enlarge their window.

grid view

A new feature added with iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey is called Grid View, which aligns all callers into an ordered grid of windows. If you prefer this format, tap or swipe up on the name of the call at the bottom of the screen, then select Grid Layout.

Add Effects to Your Call 

effects

Want to spice up your face on a FaceTime call? Add stickers, text, shapes, Animoji, Memoji, filters, and other effects. Tap the screen and then tap the star icon from the small panel of icons. From there, tap the icon for the effect you want to add. 

Portrait mode has now been added to FaceTime calls so you can blur the background. Turn this on by selecting your window and tapping the person icon in the top-left corner. 

Restart an Old Call 

restart call

If you wish to call the same people at another time in the future, you don’t need to add everyone again. Just open FaceTime, swipe down the list of previous calls, and tap the one you want.

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