Apple has long supported FaceTime Audio for the iPhone, which lets you chat with other iCloud users via Wi-Fi and (if your carrier allowed it) cellular data. Now, some users are getting their first taste of Wi-Fi calling, a carrier-based technology.

What's Wi-Fi calling?

Unlike FaceTime, Wi-Fi calling is carrier-driven, and depends on a technology called SIP / IMS (IP Multimedia Subset). The technology enables your iPhone to make and receive phone calls using a regular Wi-Fi network.

Instead of routing your voice packets through your carrier's closest cell tower, those packets get tunneled through the Internet to a controller used by your cell company, which then bounces them across the network to whomever you're speaking. The net result is that you're talking, but you're not actually using a cell tower to do it. For people who live in areas with poor or inconsistent cellular reception, Wi-Fi calling is an absolute savior.

If your carrier supports Wi-Fi calling, it's also a great way to get clearer, crisper calls when chatting with all your friends — not just those on an iPhone or Mac. Here's how to enable it.

How to turn on Wi-Fi calling for your iPhone

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Phone > Wi-Fi Calling.
  3. Switch the Wi-Fi Calling on This iPhone slider to On.
  4. You'll see a warning about location data and what your carrier collects. Tap Enable to turn on Wi-Fi Calling.

For some carriers, like AT&T, you may be bumped into a Safari WebView, where you're asked to agree to terms and conditions and provide an Emergency Call address (in case you dial 911 and they can't locate you on Wi-Fi, this gives emergency responders a place to send assistance).

How to enable Wi-Fi calling for other devices

If your carrier supports it, you can give any device on your iCloud account the ability to make and receive calls — even when your iPhone isn't nearby.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Phone > Wi-Fi Calling.
  3. If available for your carrier, select Add Wi-Fi Calling for Other Devices.
  4. A Safari WebView will prompt you to set up sync for your other devices. After you're finished, you should get alerts on your other devices confirming availability for Wi-Fi calling.


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