iOS 12.1: Group FaceTime Is Coming to iPhones, Here's How to Make the Most

It's finally here.

In a bit of a twist, Apple’s delayed Group FaceTime feature will ship to iPhones and iPads ahead of the company’s Tuesday product launch. This will come along with the iOS 12.1 software update that will also introduce new Emojis, depth-of-field control in the camera app, and dual-SIM support to the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR.

The most exciting new feature is still Group FaceTime, which lets users simultaneously video chat with up to 32 different people at once (whether you want to Group Face Time with 32 people simultaneously, however, remains an open question.) The company formally announced the new changes on Monday.

The capability was pulled from the second iOS 12.1 beta earlier in October, as early looks made the feature seem unruly even with only a handful of people on the call. But the fact that Apple is already re-introducing the feature after releasing a beta edition suggests they made substantial changes.

Just like a standard FaceTime call, Group FaceTime will allow for the use of stickers, filters, and Animoji on the iPhone X or later. But how each person shows up on the screen, how people join a call, and what information appears on screen will all change.

Chat with up to 32 people at once.


iOS 12.1 Group FaceTime: Automatic Portrait Resizing

One of the biggest concerns during the introduction of Group FaceTime was how confusing a display with 32 people’s faces on it would be. Apple claims it’ll be able to keep work conferences orderly by simply resizing each portrait based on who is talking the loudest and most frequently.

Callers who are not active will appear at the bottom of the screen, while those currently speaking be front and center. Users will also be able to drag who they want to see on their screen.

While this might work for orderly business meetings, it’ll likely still be a mess if you’re chatting with a number of your best friends. All someone has to do is let out a yell to mess with everyone’s experience, which seems like an invite for trolling.

iOS 12.1 Group FaceTime: Soundless Notifications

On the other hand, you won’t have to worry about being that person that is disruptively late to the conference call. Group FaceTime now includes “ringless notifications” which will let people join a call without making everyone’s phone ring at the same time.

There will still be evidence of your appearance, users can scroll through the different users in the call. So if offices ever adopt FaceTime conference calls, you won’t be able to get away with being late that easily.

Apple will resize each portrait according to who is speaking the loudest and the most.


iOS 12.1 Group FaceTime: iMessage Integration

Another change to Group Face Time? iMessage group chats can now become Group FaceTime video chats at the click of a button. The feature will basically make a video chat room that anyone in the message group can join at their leisure without blowing up people’s phones with notifications.

iOS 12.1 Group FaceTime: End-to-End Encryption

Just like how iMessage is secured by end-to-end encryption so is Group FaceTime. This means that only the users on the call will have access to the video call, not even Apple.

This has become the standard, as far as chatting apps go. Apple has made privacy a big deal in the past in response to various data leak scandals in the tech industry.

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