During its WWDC keynote, Apple announced that FaceTime, it’s video calling software will be available to use for Android devices and Windows PCs. The video calling service has only been available on Apple devices and has honestly been one of the contributing factors to at least in some part, the reason why some users prefer Apple’s ecosystem, be it as opposed to Android or Windows. Apple’s locked ecosystem means that this came as a sort of a surprise for us ,not too much though given they probably want to do damage control after the whole Epic games legal affair, but it’s definitely an unexpected direction for the company to take.
Does this mean Android users are going to get their own FaceTime app from which they can initiate calls ? Well, no. See how it works is an Apple user sends a link via text or WhatsApp, to an Android user which invites them to chat on FaceTime. Upon clicking the link, Android user gets directed to their browser where the chatting actually takes place. Inviting folks on non-Apple devices to chat will be available with the release of iOS 15.
So, this is definitely good news for couples, friends and family that couldn’t FaceTime before (even though the one with the Apple device will be the only one that can initiate a call). Also since it simply redirects you to your browser, where you’ll just start the call, it certainly won’t need any sign up or requirement to have an Apple ID. This definitely makes it easier as there’s no need to download or install anything. But it’s also a markedly, second-class-citizen experience. Web apps are great yes, and far more capable than they were even five years ago, but as anyone who’s used Facebook, Instagram or anything else in a mobile browser as compared to the native app version of something may tell you, there’s always a slight form of inconvenience or something that doesn’t quite « click ». Hence Apple is opening up its platform, but seemingly in a way that still reminds you that an iPhone or Mac is how you should be using Facetime instead.
One of the big things about this is that Apple is trying to make FaceTime a bit more Zoom-like. So there are going to be new features that allow you share links to scheduled calls so people can jump right into it on time. However, there are several other video calling alternatives that offer more features and flexibility for everyone. And so bearing that in mind, we don’t really see this as something that’s overly exciting for all Android users. Apple could be trying to slice itself a piece of the business-esque video calling service market which is dominated by the likes of Zoom and Microsoft Teams. But it feels a little too late for that to be honest. And if they really want to do that, they must release the FaceTime app, make it available for all, the way they have with Apple Music.
Ultimately because there’s so many other alternatives, that offer more usage options for everyone ; that can do what Apple is trying to do in a much better way, this FaceTime news doesn’t sound like anything to be hyped about. Sure, you could argue that maybe there’s an Android lover out there who’s family uses Apple devices, so now they get to join them all on FaceTime. To which we say, good for you. But when you stop to think about it, if you and a couple other of your friends own an iPhone and there’s a few others who don’t, wouldn’t everybody be better off with just using one app, that everyone can just download, modify to their liking and use whenever they want ? Why continue promoting the schism that already exists between Apple and Android by getting yourself into a situation where you have to say something like, “Let me send the link to the Android guys” ?
So if you ask us, this whole FaceTime thing isn’t worth popping the champagne over.