FaceTime audio calls finally arrive on OS X in latest Mavericks beta

Posted:
in macOS edited January 2014
When Apple seeded the first OS X Mavericks 10.9.2 beta build to developers on Thursday, it was discovered that FaceTime audio had been quietly integrated into the Messages and FaceTime apps, suggesting the company will soon bring its first-party VoIP solution to the Mac.

FaceTime Audio


According to people who have used the new FaceTime audio for Mac, Apple has seamlessly integrated the voice over IP service into both the FaceTime app and Messages, complete with the usual graphical user interface and easy access to contact information.

As seen in the screenshot above, the UI itself is spartan, with an audio levels indicator, talk time, and call/end button accompanying a contact's name and avatar. During a call, users now have the option to switch between audio and video modes via a new button next to the mute switch.

In the beta, access to audio-only FaceTime calling can be accomplished through the FaceTime app as well as directly from Messages. Seen below, Apple has integrated a call button with a phone icon next to the FaceTime video's camera icon at the top of every Messages window.

FaceTime Audio


Currently, the iOS implementation of FaceTime audio delivers a better-sounding call, say people familiar with the service. When making calls in certain environments, some noted poor audio quality, with artifacts and substantial echo heard on the receiving end. The issues are most noticeable when first establishing a connection, but usually stabilize after a few seconds.

Any existing bugs will likely be worked out in future builds and it is possible that Apple will fine tune the dual microphone setups in current Mac hardware to deliver higher fidelity audio than presently offered in FaceTime video calls.

With FaceTime audio possibly showing up in the public version of OS X 10.9.2, users will have yet another VoIP option to choose from. A number of messaging services already have voice calling on offer, and Skype has been a long-standing dominator in the sector. But a built-in turnkey solution from Apple would no doubt be an attractive alternative, especially given the company's installed iOS user base.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 42
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    Hot Diggerty!

    Finally I'll have something that I can hold up to my ear that is bigger and better than a Samsung Galaxy user's phone!
  • Reply 2 of 42
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,616member
    So to be clear, this will allow you to call someone's landline or mobile from your mac?
  • Reply 3 of 42
    virtuavirtua Posts: 207member
    FaceTime audio = oxymoron
  • Reply 4 of 42
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,105member
    Not to my understanding, no. This will allow you to make a FaceTime audio call to any iDevice that supports the feature.
    entropys wrote: »
    So to be clear, this will allow you to call someone's landline or mobile from your mac?
  • Reply 5 of 42
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,105member
    I wonder when they will bring back conference video calls. I miss being able to video chat with family members this way.

    iChat supported it just fine.
  • Reply 6 of 42
    That wo
    saarek wrote: »
    I wonder when they will bring back conference video calls. I miss being able to video chat with family members this way.

    iChat supported it just fine.
    That would be cool.
    However in the meantime I'm looking forward to FaceTime Audio, Mac style.
  • Reply 7 of 42
    saarek wrote: »
    I wonder when they will bring back conference video calls. I miss being able to video chat with family members this way.

    iChat supported it just fine.

    Anyone remember CU-SeeMe?
  • Reply 8 of 42
    entropys wrote: »
    So to be clear, this will allow you to call someone's landline or mobile from your mac?

    It's VoIP for the Mac.
  • Reply 9 of 42
    I've never used audio call actually I hope apple brings the meeting conference up soon
  • Reply 10 of 42
    chris_cachris_ca Posts: 2,543member
    nickk wrote: »
    I've never used audio call actually
    You've never made a regular phone call?
  • Reply 11 of 42
    This will be *actually useful* on a *broad scale* when Apple adds a dial-out-to-POTS service, like the one in GChat. It doesn't even have to be free.

    The carriers might complain, but they've lost that battle already. With GChat and/or Skype available on almost every smartphone available, anyone who wants this service already has it. Voice is no longer worth selling, and the prices for voice plans are plummeting.

    I think Apple could charge a reasonable value for unlimited North America calling, I would pay $4.99 a month for that I think. What is an equivalent Skype plan these days?
  • Reply 12 of 42
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Maury Markowitz View Post



    This will be *actually useful* on a *broad scale* when Apple adds a dial-out-to-POTS service, like the one in GChat. It doesn't even have to be free.



    The carriers might complain, but they've lost that battle already. With GChat and/or Skype available on almost every smartphone available, anyone who wants this service already has it. Voice is no longer worth selling, and the prices for voice plans are plummeting.



    I think Apple could charge a reasonable value for unlimited North America calling, I would pay $4.99 a month for that I think. What is an equivalent Skype plan these days?

     

    Sounds good in practice but the suggestion makes me cringe because it's really not straightforward. Apple users would have to get a new phone number as well. There was only one Grandcentral and Google bought them. I'm not sure Apple would want to start from scratch on something like this.

  • Reply 13 of 42
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ddawson100 View Post

    Sounds good in practice but the suggestion makes me cringe because it's really not straightforward. Apple users would have to get a new phone number as well.


    Dial-out only. GChat, not GVoice.

  • Reply 14 of 42
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Maury Markowitz View Post

     

    Dial-out only. GChat, not GVoice.


     

    Got it. That makes sense. It would be a nice feature. I just think it might prove distracting. Someone might want to receive calls or go so far as ditching a traditional phone altogether. Apple may need to be ready for that. Even Skype has the Skype-In as an a la carte feature. Anyway, discussion of the details aside, if Apple tackled it you know it would be done right.

  • Reply 15 of 42

    I wonder if there are any plans to merge the Phone, iChat, FaceTime and/or Messages apps in a future version of iOS and OSX? Would be handy to have everything in one app/location (speaking for myself).

  • Reply 16 of 42
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by virtua View Post



    FaceTime audio = oxymoron

     

    Not really.

     

    It likely means that any iDevice becomes a phone and can use whatever dataplan available. This seems to have implications for cell phone companies that may track minutes but not data, or companies like magicjack.

     

    You have any computer that can run FaceTime and is on a network, you can make calls.

     

    It does seem like an Oxymoron, but it's a good money-saving way to deal with a phone call.

  • Reply 17 of 42

    There's no point in facetime when Skype is ubiquitous and available on every single platform.

  • Reply 18 of 42
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

     

    I wonder if there are any plans to merge the Phone, iChat, FaceTime and/or Messages apps in a future version of iOS and OSX? Would be handy to have everything in one app/location (speaking for myself).


     

    You've got my vote on that. I'm kind of annoyed at all these different little tiny apps to communicate.

     

    Google seems to have the edge up on this as you can even do a videoconference or chat within Google+ email. I'd just like to make sure I allowed access to various apps due to the "FaceBook" embedded nonsense.

  • Reply 19 of 42
    virtuavirtua Posts: 207member
    Not really.

    It likely means that any iDevice becomes a phone and can use whatever dataplan available. This seems to have implications for cell phone companies that may track minutes but not data, or companies like magicjack.

    You have any computer that can run FaceTime and is on a network, you can make calls.

    It does seem like an Oxymoron, but it's a good money-saving way to deal with a phone call.

    Haha - it is an oxymoron.

    That doesn't mean I don't think it's good - I think it's great. It's FaceTime without the face to face ;p
  • Reply 20 of 42
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by GTR View Post



    Hot Diggerty!



    Finally I'll have something that I can hold up to my ear that is bigger and better than a Samsung Galaxy user's phone!

    <img class=" src="http://forums-files.appleinsider.com/images/smilies//lol.gif" /><img class=" src="http://forums-files.appleinsider.com/images/smilies//lol.gif" /> 

    Phew, scratch the iPhablet too.

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