In a turn that isn’t surprising to anyone, Apple is finally making the move to bring Facetime to the web. Before the pandemic, having Facetime relegated to Apple devices and via a dedicated app made perfect sense in the pre-Covid walled garden approach Apple has to most things. As COVID-19 radically changed the way we work, relate and communicate, however, Facetime tripped all over itself to try and keep pace with the Zoom explosion and the massive Google Meet overhauls that made the two services video chat standards over the past year.
Facetime is coming to the web
Announced at WWDC 2021 specifically for Windows and Android, it looks like Apple is trying to loosen things up a bit in order to compete in the video chat space. Along with URL links directly to video calls (which is being added as well), a web-based approach is imperative for a video chat app to be in the conversation at this point in 2021. Apple looks to be moving things completely to mainstream technologies to move things to the web and stay relevant, and that’s a smart move on their part.
Oddly enough, the announcement said nothing of Chromebooks, but it stands to reason that if Facetime is to truly come to the web and be based on web standards, there’s no reason it won’t work on a Chromebook, too. Worst case scenario, Chromebook users should be able to use Chrome for Android and take advantage of the new service when it does launch.
If all of this is a move to stay top of mind for users making video calls, I see no reason Apple won’t make this widely available on the web regardless of hardware. If they make it support Chrome, for instance, it should work on Chromebooks and Linux laptops just as well as Android and Windows devices. There’s no definitive details on this, however, so we’ll just have to wait and see when it arrives later this year.
Too little, too late?
If I’m being honest, I don’t see this having a massive impact on the video chat market. After all, those using Facetime on a regular basis are generally Apple users who are already fully in that ecosystem. Those not tied to Apple’s products tend to use Zoom or Google Meet at this point and it doesn’t feel like that will change anytime soon. The real winner in this whole scenario are those who use Apple’s products and only interact with Windows/Android/Chrome OS users every once and a while. For them to be able to initiate and make a Facetime call to a non-Apple user will just make things easier. My parents are the type that use Apple devices and tend to stay in that realm. I’ve had to instruct them on Duo and Meet over the last few years and it would honestly be easier to let them just call with Facetime if I can get there on the web. For those scenarios, I think this will be an absolute win.
VIA: The Verge