Everything you need to know about setting up and using FaceTime video calling on iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and Mac
FaceTime is Apple's video chat service. It allows anyone with a recent iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, or Mac to make free calls to any other Apple user over Wi-Fi or cellular connection. On the iPhone, FaceTime is bundled into the Phone app. On the iPod touch, iPad, and Mac, FaceTime is a separate app. On all devices, FaceTime can connect to any Apple-registered iPhone phone number or email address. That makes it perfect for keeping in touch with family who lives far away, with the kids while traveling, with business partners at distant offices, or even with that special someone while shopping for the perfect gift.
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FaceTime is automatically activated as part of the overall setup process you go through the first time you turn on a new iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, or Mac. If for some reason it doesn't seem to have been activated, or if you'd rather turn it off, you can also enable or disable FaceTime at any time. If you're worried about children having access to FaceTime, you can even lock it out completely using parental restrictions.
While FaceTime was originally locked to an iPhone phone number, now that iPod touch, iPad, and Mac can make FaceTime video calls, Apple has added email addresses as a way to connect. Usually your FaceTime address will be your main Apple ID -- the one you use for iCloud, and sign in with when you setup your device for the first time. However, you can all register additional addresses with Apple and FaceTime. This makes it relatively simple to ensure anyone with any of your addresses can get through, or even to separate work from family addresses, or to use different addresses on different devices.
FaceTime allows you set a caller ID. If you only have one iPhone phone number, or iPod touch, iPad, or Mac email address associated with FaceTime, that'll be your caller ID. If you have several different numbers and addresses associated with FaceTime, however, you can choose one of them to serve as your consistent, unified called ID. That way, no matter which number or address you're FaceTime calling from, the person receiving the call will always see the same contact, and easily know it's you. If you have multiple iOS and/or OS X devices, you can either set them all to the same caller ID, or to different ones -- for example, business and personal -- so you can receive calls from any number or address, but always send them from the same, specific number or address.
It took FaceTime a long time to start working over cellular, but now that it has it's made it incredibly convenient to talk with your kids while you're walking down an out-of-town street, or check with your partner before buying something for the home or office. Of course, with cellular access comes cellular data usage, and if you're on a limited plan, you may want to be careful how much you use FaceTime over 3G or LTE. Luckily, the iPhone and data-enabled iPads make it easy to turn FaceTime over cellular on, and off.
The iPhone was the first Apple device to gain access to their free video calling service, FaceTime. Since 2010 and the iPhone 4, FaceTime has been integrated right into the built-in iOS Phone app. That means you can make, or switch to, a FaceTime call as easily as a regular call. What's more, because your iPhone is with you all the time, and because FaceTime now also works over cellular data as well as Wi-Fi, you can make a FaceTime call at any time, from anywhere. That makes it perfect for everything from keeping in touch with family while you're on the road, to getting a second opinion on that jacket while you're out shopping! (Just keep an eye on your data cap!)
FaceTime is available on every iPad since the 2011 iPad 2, and iPod touch since the 2010 iPod touch 4. Because FaceTime requires an internet connection, on the iPod touch and non-cellular iPads, you need to be connected to Wi-Fi to make a call. On an iPad or iPad mini with cellular, you can FaceTime any time, from anywhere, you just need to keep an eye on your data limit, if any. Unlike the iPhone, FaceTime on the iPad, iPad mini, and iPod touch is a separate app. Tap it, and you're ready to call any other FaceTime user!
FaceTime calls are a great way to see who you're talking to, but there may come a time when you'd rather not be seen. Maybe you're not dressed for company, or maybe you simply don't want anyone to see who's with you, or behold the state of the world around you. While, Apple hasn't (yet?) enabled audio-only FaceTime calls, you can easily start a regular old FaceTime call and then turn off the video.
FaceTime works on any Mac with OS X 10.7 Snow Leopard or later and web camera, including the ones built into MacBooks and iMacs. As long as you have an internet connection, including tethering, you can use your Mac to call anyone with a FaceTime compatible iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad as well. That makes FaceTime a great option for family and business calls alike!
Apple TV, when combined with AirTime Mirroring, is great way to take personal FaceTime video calls between family or colleagues and make them group calls that everyone can engage with. Whether you want to get the whole gang together for a big birthday bash, or the entire office for a conference call, FaceTime on the big screen makes it possible.
If you need more help with using FaceTime on your iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, or Mac, check out the iMore forums.