Apple Group FaceTime: A Great New iOS 12 Feature With a Terrible Design

Do better, Apple.

Amid the flurry of news in Monday’s WWDC presentation, Apple announced one feature that some people have been demanding for years: FaceTime group calls

Bundled into iOS 12 (which should officially launch later this year), Group FaceTime, as Apple calls it, lets you live video chat with up to 32 people. It’s sure to be a popular feature that helps the company compete with Snapchat and other standalone apps like Houseparty. The only problem? Apple’s new Group FaceTime design looks downright terrible.

Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself.

See all that empty wasted space? Now imagine trying to make a Group FaceTime call on your smartphone. You’ll be able to see whoever happens to be talking loudest, but everyone else will be a tiny blur on your screen.

The real issue, which Apple’s extremely scripted demo failed to consider, is that most conversations aren’t carefully rehearsed ahead of time. People cut each other off. Multiple people talk at once, shouting over each other (or at each other). I can just imagine those weird FaceTime boxes rapidly growing and shrinking in an actual group conversation. It doesn’t look great.

Meanwhile, here’s what Houseparty, another group video chat app, looks like. It’s a simple grid of faces. No wasted space. No confusing interface. You can see everything at once, and for normal non-rehearsed conversations that’s way better than Apple’s concept.

Despite its ugly design, Group FaceTime will probably be a hit when it launches this fall. After all, plenty of iPhone owners just use whatever first-party app Apple offers them, and despite the terrible UI it’s still a very useful feature. But if you’re looking for an another option that’s available now check out Houseparty instead.

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