Apple Upgrading FaceTime to Compete with Zoom

by sam

Karley Cicale, FISM News

 

“Zoomed” out after a year of video conferencing and virtual get-togethers? Well, for IOS users, it’s possible that you may never have to lay your eyes on the blue and white Zoom logo again after Apple’s upcoming FaceTime upgrade.

Here’s a rundown of the upcoming app transformation:

Android Access

While the built in app previously acted solely as a visual alternative to voice calling, it was announced at Apple’s WWDC (WorldWide Developers Conference) 2021 that the new features will make FaceTime into a group video conferencing app, and make it competitive in a market dominated by Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Conference calls can now be scheduled and sent out with links to participants, and more importantly, these links will be accessible to Android users. So even if you don’t have an iPhone or the FaceTime app, you will soon be able to join a call on your web browser, as long as you have the latest version of Chrome or Microsoft Edge.   

 

 

Spatial Audio

Craig Federighi, Apple’s head of software, explained that additional changes are intended to make FaceTime “more natural, comfortable and lifelike”. A great example of this effort is with the audio upgrades which implement spatial audio. This recent addition to iPhone uses Dolby Atmos audio signals (the same process that creates surround sound in theaters, or even your home theater). Using directional audio filters, the new spatial audio makes the sound appear to be coming from various directions around you, like a real 3D space. 

 

Shareplay

If you’ve spent any time on Zoom, you’ve undoubtedly experienced the usefulness of screen sharing. The FaceTime version of this feature is SharePlay, which will allow participants to watch TV together. Presently, media will be available through Disney Plus, ESPN Plus, Hulu, HBO Max, MasterClass, NBA, Paramount Plus, Pluto TV, TikTok and Twitch. No worries if your favorite content provider isn’t listed yet, as Apple has allowed for a new API (Application Programming Interface) which means that other developers will have the tools to make their apps compatible and shareable through SharePlay. 

 

FaceTime’s new makeover should be available in tandem with the release of IOS 15, so keep your eyes out for the beta release in July, and the full release in the fall.  

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