FaceTime: how to do group video calls

Guide to Group calls with FaceTime: which iPhone and iPad are compatible, how to start and how video calls work with multiple participants.

FaceTime, the Apple service that allows you to make video calls (only) between iOS devices, has introduced group video calls. After having illustrated how to make group video calls on WhatsApp, we will guide you to video calls on FaceTime. The procedure is very simple. Here’s what you need to do to talk to several people at the same time.

Group FaceTime: compatible iPhone and iPad

Apple released iOS 12.1, version of iOS 12 that supports the group FaceTime feature removed during the iOS 12 beta test process.

Owners of iPhone and iPad with iOS 12.1 installed can now start video calls with up to 32 participants at the same time, also using the new features such as effects, filters, stickers, animoji and memoji included.

The group FaceTime video calls are limited to the most recent Apple devices (Phone 6s or later, iPad Pro or later, iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 4) and iOS 12 .1 is, of course, the requirement for work.

Therefore, even if compatible with the new operating system, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are not included in the list and only support audio calls without video.

In the user guide for iOS 12.1 Apple specifies that “iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3, iPad Air and iPod touch only support FaceTime group audio calls. Group FaceTime may not be available in all regions”.

How to start a group FaceTime

FaceTime group calls can be initiated via the FaceTime app or through a group conversation within the Messages app.

From FaceTime

  • Open FaceTime on your iPhone or iPad
  • Touch the + button in the upper right corner
  • Enter the name or number of a person you want to call
  • Enter up to 30 additional contacts
  • Tap Video or Audio to make the FaceTime call

From Messages

You can take advantage of the FaceTime integration on Messages to initiate a group FaceTime call to members of a group iMessage thread.

  • Open Messages on your iPhone or iPad
  • Touch a group conversation or start a new one
  • Touch the avatars of the conversation participants at the top center of the screen
  • Tap FaceTime

How to join a group FaceTime

You can also join a group FaceTime call in progress from a group iMessage thread if it is among the people in that thread. That’s how.

  • Open Messages on your iPhone or iPad
  • Tap a group conversation with an open FaceTime call
  • Touch the green button Join in the FaceTime message bubble

How group calls work

Group FaceTime supports silent notifications to allow people to participate in calls without interrupting conversations already in progress, and there are integrated tools to easily add or remove people from the chat.

When you are in a group FaceTime call, the interface is organized in squares, with the panel of the person speaking at the time you are zooming in so you can focus on each interlocutor.

To have fun and make conversations more interactive you can use the camera effects such as stickers, filters, Animoji and Memoji.

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