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What is FaceTime?

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FaceTime icon
image copyright Apple Inc.

Last Updated: April 24, 2014

Definition:

FaceTime - FaceTime is the name for Apple's video-calling technology. It allows both video and audio-only calls between compatible devices. FaceTime was originally introduced by Apple on the iPhone 4, but later saw its support extended to other Apple devices.

FaceTime takes advantage of a digital camera on compatible devices that faces the user to allow for video calls. It shows the caller to the receiver of the call, and vice versa. Calls can be made between any FaceTime-compatible devices, i.e. from iPhone to iPhone, from Mac to iPhone, from iPad to iPod touch.

Originally, FaceTime only worked on Wi-Fi networks, not cellular. This limitation on the service was imposed by phone carriers due to their concerns that video calls were bandwidth intensive and would produce slow performance and high data bills. With the introduction of iOS 6 in 2012, that restriction was removed. FaceTime calls can now be placed over 3G and 4G networks.

 

FaceTime Audio
In 2013, iOS 7 added support for FaceTime Audio, the ability to place voice-only phone calls via FaceTime. This allows users to place calls without seeing each other and without using the monthly minutes allotted to them under their phone contract. These calls still use data, though, so they count against the user's monthly data limit. 

 

FaceTime Requirements

 

Facetime Device Compatibility
FaceTime works on the following devices:

  • iPhone 4 and higher
  • 4th generation iPod touch and higher
  • iPad 2 and higher
  • Macs with cameras

FaceTime does not work on Windows or other platforms as of this writing.

 

History
At its introduction in June 2010, FaceTime only worked on iOS 4, the iPhone 4, and Wi-Fi. Support for the iPod touch and Mac OS were added in the fall of 2010. Support for the iPad 2 was added in March 2011.

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