Apple’s 32-person FaceTime chats could ease self-quarantine loneliness. Get started now – CNET

Apple’s 32-person FaceTime chats could ease self-quarantine loneliness. Get started now – CNET


Group FaceTime is an underrated feature of Apple products. 


For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

As we all look for ways to make the best of self-quarantine and social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are turning to video calls to stay in touch with friends and loved ones. Making a FaceTime call on your iPhone, iPad or Mac to say hi to family and friends is a quick and easy way to provide some connection right now. 

But remember, calls don’t need to be purely one-on-one. FaceTime supports group video chat with up to 32 people. That’s enough for an entire classroom, club or your extended family for what’s surely a much-needed break. 

My family members have talked about setting up a board game on one end of the call and then using Group FaceTime to play. At first, it sounded lame and cheesy, but as more store and school closures are announced, it may be enough to put a smile on all of our faces. 

Group FaceTime works on any Apple device that’s running iOS/iPadOS 12.1.4 or newer, and MacOS 10.14.3 or newer. Some older model iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches ($170 at Amazon) that aren’t compatible with iOS 13 can still be part of Group FaceTime calls, but their participation will be limited to audio only. 

Here’s how to use Group FaceTime on your iPhone, iPad or Mac. 


Group chats are just a few taps away from being a group video call. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Start a group call in Messages

Start a group video call directly from your group iMessage threads by tapping on the profile photos at the top of the chat. That will reveal a FaceTime button — tap it. Each member of the group chat will receive an invitation to join the group video call. Participants can come and go as they please, as long as at least one person is active in the call.


Use the FaceTime app to create a random group video chat, too. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Use the FaceTime app

You can also start a group call in the FaceTime app itself. Open the FaceTime app and tap on the “+” sign in the top-right corner. Enter a number, email address or select someone from your contacts then tap the green Video button. 

After you place the call, you can invite more people to join by swiping up in the video call and tapping on Add person


Group FaceTime works on your Mac, as well. 

Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

You can use your Mac, too

Place a group video call from the FaceTime app on your Mac by following the same core steps as on the iPhone or iPad. You can either click on the Details button followed by the video call button in a group iMessage chat, or open the FaceTime app and enter a name, number or email address in the search field (just above your call history). Keep adding contacts until your group is finished, then click the Video call button to dial. 

Who doesn’t want to talk to a bunch of random characters? 

Apple, Inc.

Have some fun during the call

iPhone and iPad owners will be able to have a little bit of fun with their calls thanks to camera effects, Animoji and Memoji. While in a call, tap on the Effects button (it has a star icon) and you’ll be able to add stickers, use your personalized Memoji, or make yourself look like an animated shark to keep others entertained.

For those of us who are working from home and use Google Docs, make sure to take a few minutes and set up offline sync. While you’re sitting idly around your home, take the time to sanitize everything, and don’t be sure you don’t fall for these coronavirus myths.

Published at Wed, 18 Mar 2020 10:00:00 +0000

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