iOS 7 beta: FaceTime Audio brings built-in VoIP, free long distance calling to iPhone

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
With iOS 7, Apple will introduce FaceTime Audio, a first-party voice over IP extension of the company's video calling service that could disrupt the mobile industry by bringing free long distance and international calling to iPhone users around the world.

FaceTime Audio
Initiating end of a FaceTime Audio call.


Glossed over by some amid the deluge of iOS 7 functions presente at WWDC on Monday, FaceTime Audio could be a game-changing addition to Apple's mobile operating system, even more so than the video calling service it's built on.

In the iOS 7 beta, FaceTime Audio can be found wherever the usual video version of the service is implemented. For example, users can place calls from the Phone app, the dedicated FaceTime app and Messages, among others. For now, the service appears is Wi-Fi only, though that could change before the OS is released this fall.

FaceTime Audio
Receiving end of a FaceTime Audio call.


When FaceTime appears as a communication option, it is now followed by two icons: a camera for video and a phone for audio-only. In its current form, the two icons are situated very close to each other, forcing more precision than should be required to hit just one button. Alternatively, a video call can be made by selecting the "FaceTime" text, which appears to be the feature's default mode.

Using FaceTime from other apps like Messages is a bit different. As seen below, selecting the "Contact" asset to the right of a friend's name brings up FaceTime as one of three choices. From there, a pop-up pane is displayed with distinct options to make either a video or audio call.

FaceTime Audio


The familiar FaceTime ring is used when placing a call, and sound quality is surprisingly good for what is essentially a beta product. Voice clarity is on a par with other apps like Skype for iOS, though using the iPhone's speaker causes considerable echo in this early version. It is unknown if FaceTime Audio supports full-duplex communication, that is the simultaneous transfer of voice data as seen in landlines, though lag was imperceptible in most situations.

Theoretically, because FaceTime is an Internet-based protocol, any two people with devices running iOS 7 can connect with one another, no matter where they are located. This is presuming they both have access to a Wi-Fi network.

Because the iPhone is used by so many, a baked-in VoIP solution that is readily accessible and easy to use could face opponents in the wireless industry as the data-based service could disrupt long-distance calling revenue streams. Just as telecoms were wary of allowing video FaceTime calls on their networks, which used valuable bandwidth, the audio-only version also proves problematic as data would eat into subscription minutes.

The new feature may not bode well for cellular carriers, such as AT&T, which fought to block certain subscribers from using the service on its network. AT&T has since promised that all customers, including those with grandfathered-in unlimited plans, will be able to use the video version of FaceTime over their networks, it remains unclear if the same policy will be extended to FaceTime Audio.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 96
    timmydaxtimmydax Posts: 284member
    First person to say "Dumb Pipes" wins :lol:
  • Reply 2 of 96
    macbook promacbook pro Posts: 1,605member
    I was just thinking the other day that Apple should offer a service like this. I have been using Google Voice recently but the service has not been impressive although the issues could be on the other end of the phone according to those with whom I have spoken when using the service.
  • Reply 3 of 96
    michael scripmichael scrip Posts: 1,912member
    It's been a long time since I heard the term "[I]long distance phone calls[/I]" or even worried about going over my "[I]minutes[/I]"

    It's funny how things change over time.
  • Reply 4 of 96
    prokipprokip Posts: 150member
    About friggin time.

    Was it so hard ?
  • Reply 5 of 96
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Instantly banned on AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, Virgin, O2, Orange, and everyone else.


     


    They'll make up further lies about why Skype will be allowed but FaceTime won't.


     




    Originally Posted by prokip View Post

    About friggin time. Was it so hard ?


     



    Where's your mobile hardware and software platform with 300,000,000 users, then? Go on, show us.

  • Reply 6 of 96
    alandailalandail Posts: 690member
    The more interesting thing than free long distance is now the iPad and iPod touch owners can make phone calls to other iOS users. It's just a matter of time before the phone service part is optional.
  • Reply 7 of 96


    You fanbois sure make me laugh....


     


    Out misplaced loyalty to a company (for which you are nothing more but a filthy sac of meat with a wallet) you ignore the best internet "radio" service there is:


     


    Google Music All Access, which combines Pandora and Spotify (and no ads to boot)

  • Reply 8 of 96
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by alandail View Post

    The more interesting thing than free long distance is now the iPad and iPod touch owners can make phone calls to other iOS users. It's just a matter of time before the phone service part is optional.


     


    AUDIO FACETIME FOR MACS! image


     


    Oh, on that subject, FREAKING COMBINE FACETIME WITH MESSAGES ALREADY, APPLE. Show us a list of our iMessage contacts in Messages and have FaceTime as an option just like video chat is with AIM… 

  • Reply 9 of 96


    You fanbois sure make me laugh....


     


    Out misplaced loyalty to a company (for which you are nothing more but a filthy sac of meat with a wallet) you ignore the best internet "radio" service there is:


     


    Google Music All Access, which combines Pandora and Spotify (and no ads to boot)

  • Reply 10 of 96


    You fanbois sure make me laugh....


     


    Out misplaced loyalty to a company (for which you are nothing more but a filthy sac of meat with a wallet) you ignore the best internet "radio" service there is:


     


    Google Music All Access, which combines Pandora and Spotify (and no ads to boot)

  • Reply 11 of 96
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    A little masking tape gets audio FaceTime working today.
  • Reply 12 of 96
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member


    Missing from this article:  Discussion of whether this works on the iPad FaceTime app or any information on how it differs if it does.  


     


    I'm still waiting for a single tech blogger to install iOS 7 on an iPad of any kind to see what it's like.  Apparently no one has thought to do this yet. 

  • Reply 13 of 96
    thewbthewb Posts: 74member


    I don't know what's better than me funding it, I don't even know what the "it" is, but I'm perfectly fine with that assessment. Get your own funds.

  • Reply 14 of 96
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TimmyDax View Post



    First person to say "Dumb Pipes" wins image


     


    "Damn Pipes!"

  • Reply 15 of 96
    christophbchristophb Posts: 1,461member
    gazoobee wrote: »
    Missing from this article:  Discussion of whether this works on the iPad FaceTime app or any information on how it differs if it does.  

    I'm still waiting for a single tech blogger to install iOS 7 on an iPad of any kind to see what it's like.  Apparently no one has thought to do this yet. 


    There is no dev release of 7 for any iPad. The closest thing would be the iPod Touch.
  • Reply 16 of 96
    denobindenobin Posts: 46member
    gazoobee wrote: »
    Missing from this article:  Discussion of whether this works on the iPad FaceTime app or any information on how it differs if it does.  

    I'm still waiting for a single tech blogger to install iOS 7 on an iPad of any kind to see what it's like.  Apparently no one has thought to do this yet. 

    It's not available for the iPad yet, Bubbie. Once it is, you'll see it here.
  • Reply 17 of 96
    christophbchristophb Posts: 1,461member
    Instantly banned on AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, Virgin, O2, Orange, and everyone else.

    They'll make up further lies about why Skype will be allowed but FaceTime won't.

    Where's your mobile hardware and software platform with 300,000,000 users, then? Go on, show us.

    I think we are all eager to see you do it better, cheaper, faster bandwidth, faster adoption, more global, perfect synergy between competitors and governments. You channeling Hugo C? Still waiting for citations for the alleged "lies". Won't hold my breath.
  • Reply 18 of 96
    customtbcustomtb Posts: 336member
    The carriers will be less resistant to such apps as the continue the move away from minutes and toward data
  • Reply 19 of 96
    christophbchristophb Posts: 1,461member
    customtb wrote: »
    The carriers will be less resistant to such apps as the continue the move away from minutes and toward data

    And LTE becomes the norm. They'll continue to provide better priority and quality to dialed voice. When the handset wars end and all phones are iPhone or when FaceTime is on every connected device, they'll worry. For a good while longer, given the large number of players, there will be application chaos. The mean user isn't looking to manage 5 voice clients each of their devices.
  • Reply 20 of 96
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by ChristophB View Post

    I think we are all eager to see you do it better, cheaper, faster bandwidth, faster adoption, more global, perfect synergy between competitors and governments. You channeling Hugo C? Still waiting for citations for the alleged "lies". Won't hold my breath.


     


    So your excuse for why Skype always worked over 3G and FaceTime didn't is?



    So your explanation for why FaceTime Audio will magically be allowed over 3G despite years of evidence to dissuade you from that is…?

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