With the current pandemic situation all over the globe, video conference calling services have seen a huge spike in usage in recent weeks. One of those services, Google Meet, has announced today that it is going free for everyone (it was previously only offered as part of the G-Suite offerings), although there are some limitations, of course. Still, it's better than nothing, and if you think about it, Apple should consider doing something similar with FaceTime and make it available to others who are not on the Apple ecosystem.
Steve Jobs originally said FaceTime would become an open standard
FaceTime was originally announced by Steve Jobs alongside with the iPhone 4 back in 2010. At the time, Jobs said that FaceTime was based on open standards, and that Apple would release the FaceTime protocol itself as an open standard for everyone. This would allow third parties to develop FaceTime apps for other platforms, and open up an entirely new world.
But that never came to fruition (and Rene Ritchie did a great job explaining why). A decade has gone by and there is still zero sign that Apple is going to make FaceTime an open protocol. In fact, I think a lot of people just forgot about that at this point (can't blame them).
We're living in unprecedented times that call for video communication
Right now, a lot of us are staying home, which means less in-person contact with people who matter to us. To recreate that person-to-person interaction that many of us crave, we're turning to video conference calling services and apps, such as Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, and more. And while FaceTime is an option to consider, it is only available if everyone is using an iOS or macOS device, which is limiting.
With this in mind, it's a good time for Apple to re-consider opening up the FaceTime protocol and bring it to other platforms, such as Android, Windows, the web, and more. I know plenty of people would prefer to use FaceTime already since it is built-in to their iPhone and iPad, so they wouldn't have to sign up for a new service or download another app just to video chat with a friend or family member.
Apple takes privacy more seriously compared to the competition
I know, I know — if Apple brings FaceTime to other platforms, then the people using that platform would need to sign up and download an app to be able to use FaceTime. This would be a little hypocritical with my last point about FaceTime users who just want to use the service because they don't want to sign up for another thing.
But Apple is also unlike other companies because it takes privacy seriously, especially when compared to a competitor like Google. Your information isn't collected and sold off, and you aren't the product when it comes to Apple. Plus, with Apple's communication services, like iMessage and FaceTime, it all has end-to-end encryption using AES-256. Of course, Apple isn't perfect, and there is the occasional security bug, but the company rectifies these quickly, and sometimes, rather drastically.
I feel like I'll never see FaceTime arrive on other platforms during my lifetime since Apple likes to keep features exclusive for its own hardware, but again, this is a weird timeline we're in right now. Apple should definitely reconsider making FaceTime open for non-Apple users, similar to how Google is opening up Meet for everyone (albeit with some restrictions).
Would you like to use FaceTime with users on other platforms? Sound off in the comments.
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Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.
When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.