Instant Expert: Using FaceTime for Mac with iPod touch / iPhone | iLounge Article

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Instant Expert: Using FaceTime for Mac with iPod touch / iPhone

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Articles Categories: Tutorials

Apple used its Back to the Mac special event in Cupertino to introduce FaceTime for the Mac, a free standalone application that enables iPhone 4, iPod touch 4G, and now Macintosh computer users to video call one another over Wi-Fi connections. FaceTime is being called a “beta” application, but thus far it seems stable and useful enough to qualify as a finished release by most companies’ standards. iLounge’s editors have been testing FaceTime for the Mac with their iPods and iPhones, and have some early details to report.

1. The FaceTime App. It’s a free download from Apple.com’s FaceTime page and is 13.4MB compressed, requiring 38.9MB of hard disk space when uncompressed. Contrary to what we’d originally hoped, it’s a standalone application rather than built directly into iChat—a decision by Apple that may herald an eventual FaceTime for Windows release.

2. FaceTime Setup. Designed to be as simple as possible, FaceTime loads up, asks you for an Apple ID—the same one you’d use for Apple Store or iTunes Store purchases—and then allows you to assign that or a different e-mail address to be associated with the Apple ID for making and receiving calls. As with the iPod touch version of FaceTime, an e-mail is then sent to the secondary address for verification purposes, thereafter allowing you to place or receive calls just by clicking on any name in your contacts list.

A dark gray scrolling window off to the right of your own camera image provides a full list of your contacts, plus buttons for Favorites, Recents, and Contacts that work just like the ones in the iPod touch FaceTime application.

You have the ability to switch cameras and microphones from a Video menu at the top of the screen, as well as to manually toggle between landscape and portrait orientations, enter a full screen mode, and mute the audio.

3. Receiving Calls. FaceTime continues to be able to receive incoming calls even when the app is not loaded and active—unless you deactivate FaceTime in its Preferences menu. This keeps you from having to watch a persistent video of your own face, which by default is shown in portrait orientation rather than landscape. The app runs in the background when turned off, launching automatically when a call comes in, letting you accept or reject the call. On both sides, you hear the familiar multi-beep tone used for iChat calling and FaceTime calling on iPod touch and iPhone 4 devices. If you accept the call, the app becomes “active;” if you reject it, it disappears as if it was never opened.

4. Making Calls. You can try to contact any of the people on your contacts list with a phone number or e-mail address. For the time being, you can’t manually type in a new e-mail address or phone number to a contact using the FaceTime application—this needs to be handled through Address Book, or by having the person contact you first. You can then add the contact with a button press. If the person accepts your call, the small FaceTime calling window may grow to a larger size; if not, you’re given Call Back and Cancel buttons, with a “is not available for FaceTime” message.

5. Performance. Predictably, FaceTime is silky smooth on Macs—at least as good as it is on iPhone 4 and iPod touch 4G devices. Our editors have already been able to have two simultaneous discussions going on separate FaceTime devices using the same two Wi-Fi networks—one Mac connected to one iPod touch 4G, and one iPhone 4 connected to a different Mac. Both sets of video and audio feeds were smooth on both ends, which isn’t a huge surprise given that Macs have been able to handle four-person iChat sessions for years, but speaks to FaceTime’s ability to handle multiple discussions over different devices in public Wi-Fi settings.

6. Camera Differences. Apple uses different cameras in its Macs than it has used in its iPhone 4 and iPod touch devices, another “obvious” point that turns out to be a little surprising when you go into full-screen mode with the FaceTime application. In addition to whatever color rendition and resolution differences there may be between devices—and we have at this point seen some Mac camera output that is noticeably higher in resolution than iOS camera quality—the iPod touch and iPhone 4 cameras have different aspect ratios: thus far, our testing on past and current-generation Macs has shown 16:10 aspect ratios for either tall or wide video, while iPhones and iPod touches have 3:2 aspect ratios. Blow up an iPhone 4 or iPod touch 4G video image on your Mac’s screen and you’ll see black bars on the sides; the iPod touch and iPhone always display Mac images as full-screen, cropping the 16:10 downwards.

7. Forcing Landscape and Portrait Modes. Once again, the Mac by default shows a Mac caller in portrait mode rather than landscape, a big difference relative to the default landscape presentation of iChat/iSight videos. Additionally, it displays both callers in the same orientation every time a caller with an iPhone 4 or iPod touch switches his or her orientation—just as was the case on the handheld devices. But since there’s no way to turn the Mac on its side (unless you’re on a laptop), when using FaceTime on the Mac, you can force your image to be turned automatically using the Video > Use Portrait/Use Landscape feature. When this is activated, your image is forced into the preferred orientation on the receiving caller’s screen, regardless of the way that they turn their device, or how FaceTime would normally look on the Mac.

8. Missed Calls. When FaceTime is running in the background on the Mac, it keeps track of missed calls with a red numeric pop-up, and brings you to your list of recent calls on startup, showing you in red whose calls you’ve missed. Returning the call is as easy as hitting their name. There’s not, as of yet, a way to leave video messages for people who you can’t reach on the other side—true Visual Voicemail.

9. Calls on Multiple Devices. All Wi-Fi connected devices associated with a specific e-mail address will ring when a FaceTime attempt is made to contact the person at that e-mail address, just as was the case with simultaneously registered iPod touch 4G devices. A call that’s rejected on one device stops another device from continuing to ring—not immediately, but quickly—and lists of missed calls are independently maintained by the devices, though a call accepted on one device does not appear as missed on others. Notably, the iPhone 4 does keep a list of calls missed even when it’s not Wi-Fi connected; there, the FaceTime ring and connection screen never appear on the device, but the call history gets updated to show that you missed a FaceTime calling attempt.

10. One Thing FaceTime Can Do On Macs But Not iPhones: Cellular Calling. The iPhone 4 requires you to have a Wi-Fi connection in order to make a FaceTime call, and so do iPod touches. But the Mac doesn’t—if it’s on a wired network, or even on a cellular 3G broadband USB adapter, it can make and receive FaceTime calls. We’ve seen it work over Verizon cellular 3G and over Rogers tethering, ironically from a connected iPhone 4, and it’s smoother than an iChat connection over the same networks. While the Verizon cellular connection was laggy, the video looked pretty good otherwise, and the audio was entirely understandable, though a little slow.

We’ll have more details on FaceTime for Mac soon.

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Comments

1

I got one question… Let’s say I have my laptop at work, my iMac at home and my iPod touch 4G, all configured with Facetime, using the same email address. What happens when I get a call? All three devices will ring? If my wife is at home on the iMac and me at work on the laptop, we both get a chance to answer?

Posted by Jonathan on October 20, 2010 at 1:01 PM (PDT)

2

The short answer is yes.  All devices configured with the same e-mail address will simultaneously ring when a FaceTime call comes in and you can answer on any ONE of those devices.

Keep in mind that you can have multiple e-mail addresses associated with a single Apple ID, and you don’t have to associate the same e-mail addresses with each FaceTime device, so you could have a work e-mail address setup on your computer at the office and a personal e-mail address that you use on your iPod touch.

Note that the iPhone 4 is left out of this particular party. You can still place calls to the iPhone 4 from any FaceTime device using the phone number, but there is not yet any way to call an iPhone 4 using an e-mail address.

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on October 20, 2010 at 1:07 PM (PDT)

3

How do I make a FaceTime call TO a Mac FROM an iPhone?

Posted by Sangi on October 20, 2010 at 7:29 PM (PDT)

4

I have an Imac and an Ipod touch 4G and I want to be able to use Facetime between them both, but I only have 1 Itunes account and 1 email address. How do I Facetime from my Ipod to my Imac when I’m away from home to say goodnite to the kids?

Posted by Ross on October 20, 2010 at 8:02 PM (PDT)

5

Anyone know how I associate my iPhone 4 with the email address I used on my Mac, so both devices will ring if someone ‘calls’ my email address?

Posted by Filip on October 21, 2010 at 3:05 AM (PDT)

6

@Sangi (#3): To place calls to FaceTime on the Mac or on an iPod touch, simply “call” the e-mail address rather than a phone number. You’ll need iOS 4.1 or later to place calls to an e-mail address, but otherwise it’s the same as placing any other kind of FaceTime call—the user’s e-mail address should appear as one of the destinations when you tap the “FaceTime” button on a contact record.

@Ross (#4): You can use the same Apple ID on both the iPod touch and the Mac, but you will definitely need an alternate e-mail address on one of the devices. This does not have to be a completely separate address, however—it can be an alias to your existing account if your e-mail provider allows you to setup aliases. Some providers also automatically handle “plus” addressing in which case you could setup the second FaceTime device as something like “youremail+facetimemac@yourdomain.com”  As long as you can receive a confirmation e-mail in your inbox in order to verify the address that should work fine.  Failing all of that, you may simply need to setup another e-mail address with one of the many free providers out there.

Filip (#5): Unfortunately, this is not possible—at least not yet.  The iPhone 4 can only use a phone number to place and receive FaceTime calls. While it’s possible that this may change in iOS 4.2, reports from developers who already have the beta version are indicating that it’s not there yet.

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on October 21, 2010 at 6:42 AM (PDT)

7

I’m having trouble getting a connection to anybody from FaceTime for Mac.  When I initiate the connection, the phone or mac on the other end will ring, but the connection will not go through and no video will start.  I think it’s related to VirusBarrier X6, but I can’t figure out what the exact problem is.

Any ideas?

Posted by derflatermaus on October 26, 2010 at 3:42 PM (PDT)

8

Will an ipod touch that is “sleeping”, wake up and alert you when there’s an incoming facetime call? or does the ipod touch have to be “awake” in order to receive facetime calls?

Posted by Dan Shin on October 31, 2010 at 5:09 AM (PDT)

9

I cant hear the ringer on my mac when a call is coming in.  Is there a way to adjust it?

Posted by Doug on November 5, 2010 at 8:37 PM (PDT)

10

What if my brother, sister, and I are all using the iTunes email account for face time will it still work? Because it won’t let us?

Posted by Steph on December 24, 2010 at 9:38 PM (PDT)

11

I have an application that detects corrupt mp3 files. The thing is, some of these mp3s that the application claims are corrupt still synch fine to my I-Tunes.

Is it possible that you can actually sync a certain amount of corrupted mp3s before you start getting synching problems?

Any feedback would be much appreciated.

Thanks.

Posted by Peter Bloom on March 1, 2011 at 11:24 AM (PDT)

12

Ok so me and my boyfriend were FaceTimeing on out iPod touches…and he had to go do something so we both hung up…then he tried to call me back again.and again. And I got nothing so I replied calling him again and again he got nothing
What should I do when this happens??? I’m so sorry this is probably a stupid question

Posted by Haley923 on January 7, 2012 at 8:28 PM (PDT)

13

Hello,
when I am facetiming on my imac, others can hear me, but I cannot hear them. The computer is constantly telling me to restart the audio for facetime. How do I restart the audio for facetime????? Please help me this problem is drivng me crazy.

Posted by Andre Daily on March 20, 2012 at 7:58 PM (PDT)

14

The bottom of my iPod touch 3rd generation won’t work. How do I fix this?

Posted by Mr.Brown on July 19, 2012 at 8:13 PM (PDT)

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