Now that iOS 7 is upon us and has been now for a few weeks, people are finally getting used to the new Apple operating system. In fact, I was reading this morning that something like 71% of iPhone users have already upgraded to this newest version. That is a phenomenal upgrade rate, especially when you compare to something like the Android ecosystem. However, with such a huge number of people finally making the change, and by now a good portion of those people aren’t the early adopter tech geeks, then there are likely many features of iOS 7 that need to be explained. The focus on this post is going to describe one of these new features, and how to get at it: FaceTime Audio.
FaceTime Audio is, quite simply, a way to make calls to other iOS 7 users without actually using your cellphone’s voice plan minutes. It does it all over data, and if you actually use it while on a wifi network, then you can make the call completely independent of your cell provider. This has the potential to be a great way of reducing your monthly cell bill, since if your call network includes many people running iOS 7, then you can very likely downgrade to a cheaper voice plan, while still being able to use FaceTime Audio to place your calls. It’s a new feature, and one that surprisingly hasn’t really been focused on (yet?), but if it catches on, it will really make waves in the mobile phone industry.
So, sounds pretty useful, right? Making phone calls without having to actually pay for the minutes? Yes please! Thankfully, it is simple to do, albeit not very obvious. Unfortunately, it is not actually accessed through the green FaceTime app. Follow along with the steps below to access it!
The first thing that you need to do is have the contact information of the person that you would like to conduct a FaceTime Audio chat with. You can add a contact in the built-in Contacts app. To start, you simply tap the + in the top right corner, and then tap in all the relevant fields to fill in the phone numbers and email addresses, etc. From here, Apple does their thing and can “automagically” figure out which of your contact’s details is the one tied to their Apple account.
Now, having completed the contact card, take a look at the contact info that you have just provided. You should see a section labeled as “FaceTime” beneath the phone numbers. And next to that, you should see two little blue icons: one representing a camera, and one representing a phone. The camera icon is actually a button to initiate a traditional FaceTime videoconference call, whereas the phone icon is the one we are interested in right now. When you tap on that, it will initiate the FaceTime Audio call! The person on the other end will be notified that there is an incoming FaceTime Audio call, and they can choose to accept or ignore, just like any other call.
I haven’t tried yet, but I wonder if you can switch between an audio call and a video call while actually on the call and not dropping the connection. Hmmm, something to try this weekend!
Now you know how to place FaceTime Audio calls with Apple’s newest operation system for iPhone, iOS 7. Have you had a chance to try it out yet? What do you think of the call quality?