This isn’t a shameless plug: our Patreon community is a really, really cool place (there’s a link down below if you are interested). Yesterday, one of our most active members reached out (thanks, TK!) to ask if we’d like to see Facetime on the web in action. Through a string of circumstances, he has an iPhone with the developer preview of iOS 15 and, by extension, he has the latest version of Facetime to go along with it. As you might remember, Facetime is in line to get an update to make it a lot more like the most popular video chatting apps such as Zoom and Google Meet in the fall, giving it web-based abilities that allow calls to happen in the browser along with URL-based chat invites.
Oddly enough, when Apple announced this rather-large update to the way that they are handling video chats moving forward, the specific line was “even your friends with Android and Windows devices can use your Facetime link to join the call.” While a truly web-based solution should theoretically work on all major browsers, I was concerned with this verbiage as it made me wonder if Facetime for the web would only work on browsers running on those two operating systems. Sure, Chrome for Android can technically run on a Chromebook, but what a shame it would be if that’s the only way this new, more-open version of Facetime worked.
Fortunately, that isn’t the case and yesterday I got to test out the new web-based Facetime with one of our Patrons: TK. I’ll be honest, the quality was great, the connection was stable, and the process was dead-simple. TK sent me a link, I clicked it, put in my name, clicked join, and after he allowed me in, we were on a call. Just like Zoom or Google Meet, this took all of the app downloading, contact sharing, and navigational woes out of the equation. It was as simple as clicking a link and it worked the way you’d expect.
While I honestly expected Apple to show up with a semi-locked-down version of Facetime for the web, it looks like they are truly commiting to using modern, open web languages for these calls and I couldn’t be happier about it. I love the fact that soon, my Apple-using family and friends will be able to simply start up a Facetime call with me and I’ll be able to just take that call on a Chromebook with very little friction whatsoever. It’s a move in the right direction and maybe one day Apple will allow the genesis of these video chats to exist on web-based platforms, too. Maybe that’s a step too far for the generally locked-down Apple, but I have hope that one day in the future, I’ll be able to head to facetime.apple.com, log in with my Apple ID, and place a video call to an iPhone-toting friend.