Apple is bringing a ton of cool new features to FaceTime with the iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey software updates. It makes perfect sense because video calling is now more popular than ever, thanks to COVID.
These new additions will allow you to do a lot more during video calls, doing a lot to improve socializing from the comfort of your home. And, if you don’t have an Apple device, we have a surprise for you too.
So, let’s take a look at six new features coming to FaceTime in iOS 15 and macOS Monterey.
1. FaceTime Watch Parties With SharePlay
This is arguably the biggest feature that Apple is adding to FaceTime. Starting with iOS 15 and macOS Monterey, you can start a watch party in FaceTime calls. To use SharePlay during 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 in sync for everyone in the call. So you don’t have to keep asking them if you’re watching the same scene as they are.
Likewise, you can start a shared music-listening experience from FaceTime too. For instance, you can hit play in Apple Music during a call to share content with all the participants. Others will be able to add songs to the queue or control the playback as they wish.
Big names in the entertainment industry like Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, Twitch, and more will support SharePlay at launch. Any interested developer can tap into the SharePlay API and bring this functionality to their own apps.
2. FaceTime Goes Multi-Platform
If you’re not an Apple user, this might just be the biggest feature that FaceTime brings with iOS 15 and macOS Monterey software updates. Yes, this is the surprise we mentioned earlier. FaceTime is finally making its way to non-Apple devices.
Let’s see how this works, shall we?
Apple users will now be able to generate a FaceTime link that they can share with literally anyone they want to. Clicking on this link from a non-Apple device will launch a web browser (Chrome or Edge) and take you to FaceTime web, where you can participate in the call from your non-Apple device.
Before you ask, no, you cannot create a FaceTime link without an Apple device.
Despite being available on the web, FaceTime calls are still secure with end-to-end encryption. No one expected Apple to make this move, but it’s safe to say COVID changed the company’s perspective.
You can also generate FaceTime web links while creating events in the Calendar app, thanks to the new Calendar integration. So your colleagues will know exactly when and where to meet for the scheduled online meetings.
3. Portrait Mode Arrives on FaceTime
We all know and love Portrait mode on the iPhone. Now Apple is bringing it to FaceTime calls too, and we’re all for it. Whether you own a Mac, iPhone, or iPad, FaceTime will use software-based video effects to blur the background and put the focus on you.
What an easy way to hide your messy bedroom or workspace, right?
Unfortunately, not all iOS 15 and macOS Monterey-compatible devices will support this feature. If you own an iPhone or iPad, you’ll require a model with the Apple A12 Bionic chip or later. In other words, an iPhone XR or the iPad 8th generation at the bare minimum.
If you’re a Mac user, we’re sorry to say that all Intel-based models are unsupported. Apple requires the M1 chip to get this functionality to work in macOS Monterey.
4. Spatial Audio to Make FaceTime Sound Real
You’ve probably heard about Spatial Audio for Apple Music, but you may be wondering what the point of this feature is in FaceTime calls. Well, Apple intends to make group video calls sound more natural with the rollout of iOS 15 and macOS Monterey.
Spatial Audio will spread out all individual voices, and the sounds will come from the direction of each person’s positioning on your screen. You may find it hard to notice this feature on an iPhone since it has a small screen, but will certainly be worth looking out for if you’re an iPad or Mac user.
Just like Portrait mode, Apple limits this feature to specific devices. You’ll need an iPhone or iPad with the A12 Bionic chip or later. Fortunately, you don’t need an M1 Mac for this one since all models from 2018 are supported.
5. Voice Isolation and Wide Spectrum Modes
These are two distinct features that impact how your microphone performs during FaceTime calls. First, let’s start with Voice Isolation. This mode utilizes machine learning to block out the background noise during a video call and make sure your voice is loud and clear no matter how noisy your environment is.
Wide Spectrum mode, on the other hand, works oppositely. Sometimes, there’s someone else nearby during a call, and you want them to be audible too. Or, you’re playing music in the background, and you want that to be heard. You can select the Wide Spectrum mode to make sure your mic picks up every bit of sound in your room.
6. Grid View
Lastly, we have a minor feature that deserves some attention. Once you update to iOS 15 or macOS Monterey, you’ll be able to take advantage of the new Grid View during FaceTime group calls.
When there are so many people in a group FaceTime call, it can become tough to keep track of who’s talking. Grid View will display all the participants in same-sized tiles, highlighting the active speaker with a border.
On the iPad and the Mac, you’ll be able to see up to 18 faces in a grid at once. However, you’ll be limited to just 6 faces on the iPhone, but you can blame its much smaller screen for this limitation.
FaceTime Has Never Looked This Good
It’s been years since FaceTime saw an update this big. However, it’s important to remember not all devices will support every single feature listed here. Hardware limitations prevent Apple from implementing key features like Portrait mode and Spatial Audio on older devices.
Regardless, the FaceTime revamp is something to look forward to, even if you’re an Android or Windows user. And, if you don’t have the patience to wait, you can try out the iOS 15 and macOS Monterey developer beta builds right now.
A Focus mode, FaceTime updates, and a redesigned Notes app are just some of the many new features of iOS 15.
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