Now is the time for Apple to consider bringing FaceTime to other platforms

16-inch MacBook Pro FaceTime
16-inch MacBook Pro FaceTime (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

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 (opens in new tab), 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.

Final thoughts

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.

Christine Chan

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.

  • There is no need for this. This virus thing will be over soon. People who need to video chat already have too many choices, and the vast majority need it for work anyway. Which means Windows. Which means whatever your company is already using. Apple sells plenty of phones and iPads. We are not talking Microsoft here, who HAD to put all of their apps everywhere when their phones failed. Putting FaceTime and/or iMessage on Android would help no one, and only hurt Apple.
  • Disagree 100% with everything you said. It was needed before the virus, and even more needed now. The article is spot on. Apple’s silly silo-ing of apps has never helped them. They’re starting to realize it with Apple Music and Apple TV+. They should do it here as well. It would help Apple immensely by introducing a bigger audience where groups of folks from any platform can use it. All that said, I’m sure it’ll never happen 😄
  • It will never happen because there is nothing in it for Apple.
  • There is if they charge for it. I would pay for full iMessage and facetime comparability on my windows devices. Dell mobile conn3ct works really well, but having full support would be perfect. And I would pay a good deal for the option. So yes, there are millions and millions of dollars in it for apple just as there is for any other of their apps and services.
  • I think if Apple charged for it people would just use other services, there are an abundance of messaging and video call services, most of which are free. For someone who has an interest in tech/privacy, maybe, but the average consumer would just say "Why? iPhone users can just download WhatsApp to message/video call to Android users"
  • Or Skype, Meet, Zoom...
  • Not true. Most people who use windows have apple devices too. They would pay 5.99 each service to use them. Even if one million people do, that 6 million in revenue they never had before.
  • Oh, btw....Don't forget the umpteen million android users that would gladly take advantage of both pieces of software as well. Apple would make a good deal of money off this if they did it. That would probably make up the shortfall of decline iphone sales. whodathunkit?
  • The Android users I know are all Apple haters. Think about it. If they weren’t Apple haters, they would be using iPhones. They would not be caught dead using Apple anything. They would certainly never use an Apple chat app that is not free. Again, FaceTime and iMessage on Android makes no sense. Which is why it has not and will not happen. BTW, Apple just posted 45 billion in revenue for the quarter. They hardly need 6 million in one time fees from Android users.
  • Beg to differ. You are certainLy closed minded. I know lots of Android users who want iMessage and facetime because alot of family members are on apple. If you think it's only 6 million think again. You are not very good at math.
  • "The Android users I know are all Apple haters. Think about it. If they weren’t Apple haters, they would be using iPhones. " This is terrible logic. Firstly, not all Android users are Apple haters, in fact most just buy Android devices because they're less restricted and there's more choice. Secondly, the people that don't hate Apple, why would they suddenly just go with Apple? There are reasons not to buy an iPhone the same way that there are reasons not to buy an Android phone
  • The only terrible logic here is thinking that this will happen. It will never happen, for obvious reasons. Disagree all you want. Your argument is with Apple, not me. So just Get The F Over It. It is never going to happen.
  • Windows may be about to be assaulted unlike anything it's seen before with ARM Mac around the corner. Without the Intel tax, ARM Mac may be a lot more successful than Wall St analysts may be expecting. In tech, things can change by disruption fairly quickly as per fall of Palm, Nokia, Blackberry, etc. Windows may be next on the list
  • Windows has been around too long to just die out. Windows thrives on its backwards compatibility, people use apps that have been unsupported for years, or companies use bespoke apps that they had developed 10+ years ago that still work. Windows computers are still cheaper than Macs, and will most likely stay that way, many consumers go for the cheapest option so long as it works
  • Yea, No. An ARM Mac won't compete any better than current Macs. It will have features that will appeal to current Mac owners, battery life, always on, etc. It will not come at a killer price. There is a lot of Windows PC space below $1000. A $500 ARM Mac would be a low spec, low power, low resolution plastic abomination. Mac quality comes at a price. Apple won't abandon that cache. Their foray into ARM is not about money and competitiveness, it's about control.
  • "People who need to video chat already have too many choices" Most of the other choices use WebRTC, which is pretty inefficient, it heats up your Mac and drains way too much power, plus some of the other video services have privacy/security concerns. FaceTime is a native solution which makes it work without spinning up the fans and I can still get good battery life, and it also appears to be pretty good on the privacy and security aspect
  • All other platforms do not heat up PC's. Should try one and get out of the stone age with the Mac Danny.
  • If FaceTime doesn't heat up my Mac, that means the others are inefficient. There isn't much more to it. Even if other computers don't "heat up" as much under pressure, that's still missing my point, the other video platforms still drain more battery. Let's put it this way: many apps are inefficient now, look towards Electron-based apps such as Skype, Microsoft Teams, Discord. They're all running web-browser instances to create an application, as opposed to a native app which doesn't use nearly as much power or resources. Do you get it now?
  • Yea, so Apple is going to make a native FaceTime client for Windows, so it can claim better efficiency on a platform that is probably going to be plugged in when video teleconferencing.
  • I don't think Apple would create it for that reason, but that would be one advantage. And I know many people who video call on their laptops or work from home without being plugged in all the time
  • FaceTime is not the only service that should be brought to other platforms. Books should be as available as Kindle.
  • There are also some legal issues to consider.
  • Like what quakerotis?