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Make Video Calls with FaceTime on Your iPhone 5

Think of all the people who will want to see you, such as an old college roommate living halfway around the world or grandparents living miles away. Using FaceTime is as easy as making a regular call on the iPhone. Plus, FaceTime comes with at least two major benefits besides the video:

  • FaceTime calls don't count against your regular minutes, though they will count against your data plan allotment if you make these calls over a cellular connection.

  • The audio quality on FaceTime calls, those over Wi-Fi anyway, can be superior to a regular cellphone connection.

But FaceTime also has a couple of major caveats:

  • Both you and the party you're talking to must have an iPhone 4 or later model, an iPad 2 or later model, a Mac computer, or a recent iPod touch. (The list of compatible devices keeps growing.) Apple is pushing to make FaceTime a video standard that the entire tech industry can embrace, allowing you to someday make FaceTime calls to other handsets and computers that don't carry an Apple logo. Skype, among others, also lets you make video calls on the iPhone over a much broader range of devices. Google+ is another viable rival.

  • Both you and the caller at the other end have to access Wi-Fi or a robust cellular connection because the quality of the experience depends on a solid connection.

If you meet the requirements, here's how to make FaceTime happen:

  1. The first time you make a FaceTime call to another iPhone, dial the person's regular iPhone number as usual.

    Or better yet, tap the FaceTime app that is new to iOS 7.

    Use an e-mail address instead if you're using FaceTime to call an iPod touch, an iPad, or a Mac.

  2. If you did start out with a regular call and you've broached the subject of going video, you can tap the FaceTime button, as shown in the following figure.

    image0.jpg

    A few seconds later, the other person gets the option to Decline or Answer the FaceTime invitation by tapping the red button or the green button, respectively, as shown in the next figure. If the call is accepted, you'll need to wait a few seconds before you can see the other person.

    image1.jpg

You can also use Siri to make a FaceTime call. Just ask Siri to "FaceTime with Dad" or whomever else you'd want to engage in a video call, and Siri will make the proper arrangements. You can do FaceTime also by tapping a pal's listings in Contacts.

When someone requests FaceTime with you, you'll appreciate being able to politely decline a FaceTime call. Cool as it can be to see and be seen, ask yourself if you really want to be seen, say, when you just get out of bed or before your morning coffee.

Search for any FaceTime calls you previously made by tapping an entry for that call in Recents. The iPhone knows to take the call straight to video, though of course the person you're talking to has to accept the invitation each time.

So what is a FaceTime call like? Not only are you seeing the other person, but the quality of the video is also typically good. You also see your own mug (and maybe whoever else is in the room with you) in a small picture-in-picture (PiP) window, which you can drag to a corner of the screen. The PiP image represents what the other person sees, so it's a good way of knowing, short of the other person telling you, if your face has dropped out of the frame.

You can use FaceTime in portrait or landscape mode. You might find it easier to bring another person into a scene in landscape mode.

Apple says that the front camera has been fine-tuned for FaceTime usage, which in photography-speak means the camera has the proper field of view and focal length. But at times, you'll want to employ the iPhone's main camera on the rear to best show off your surroundings and give the caller an idea of where you are.

To toggle between the front and main cameras, tap the camera icon at the bottom-left corner of the screen.

If you want to mute a FaceTime video call, tap the microphone icon with the slash running through it. The caller won't be able to hear you but can continue to see you.

Although many FaceTime calls commence with a regular AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon call, you can't go from FaceTime to an audio-only call without hanging up and redialing. In the past, if you dropped a FaceTime call because of a Wi-Fi hiccup or some other problem, you had to redial via FaceTime or your provider, depending on whether you wanted the call to be video or only audio.

Thanks to iOS 7, you can now make FaceTime audio-only calls. Tap the FaceTime app icon, tap Contacts, and then tap the phone icon, which indicates you want to make a FaceTime call without the face. (Tapping the video icon next to a contact listing would make a regular FaceTime video call instead.) From the FaceTime app, you can also designate FaceTime favorites (audio or video), and make FaceTime calls in the Recents log as well. Only FaceTime calls will be shown in Recents, not the regular calls you make over the cellular network.

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