The latest iOS update brings a series of improvements and a massive overhaul of the user interface. Beneath that shiny coat of paint is an unsung addition that could prove to be a game changer. It’s called FaceTime Audio, and brings astoundingly clear voice calls to all devices running iOS7.
While FaceTime has offered basic video calling, there was always the curious absence of the option to make voice-only calls. With the unveiling of FaceTime Audio, there may finally be an explanation for why it took so long to arrive. Don’t let the slightly odd name fool you, FaceTime Audio is an animal when it comes to call clarity. It takes full advantage of the latest HD voice technology to enable calls that blow everything else out of the water. You’ll have to try it for yourself to appreciate the difference but it makes grainy, scratchy, dropped cellphone calls seem beyond obsolete.
To initiate a FaceTime Audio call, you simply open the FaceTime app, choose the contact you’d like to call, and tap the new phone icon to invite the contact to a FaceTime Audio session. There are convenient mute and speakerphone options available as well. Once the contact accepts the invitation, you can start enjoying some vivid call quality.
Of course the one major downside to all of this is that FaceTime only works via WiFi. You’ll need to be connected to a WiFi network or hotspot in order to make and receive FaceTime Audio calls. With the number of iOS devices out there and availability of WiFi however, FaceTime Audio is often a viable alternative to cellphone calls. If FaceTime Audio gains enough momentum, it could put pressure on cell carriers to improve their coverage and call quality.
To use FaceTime Audio, you will need to upgrade to iOS7. Because they take place via WiFi, FaceTime Audio calls are completely free. The incredible clarity of voice calls is incentive enough to upgrade if you’ve been holding off.