I cannot tell you how many times I call a fellow iPhone user with FaceTime Audio and they’re all, What is this? followed by Wow, why don’t I ever use it? It seems that a ton of people, at least in my wide circle of friends and family, are familiar with FaceTime Video but not with the audio feature, and I’ve learned you are totally missing out on all sorts of benefits if you’re not using it.
Like the video feature, audio connects you to other iPhone users on Wi-Fi (or data, if you choose). To find the FaceTime Audio button on your iPhone or iPad, go into your contacts and to the right of the name, you’ll see the FaceTime Video button (looks like an old video camera) and then a phone icon right next to that. That’s it. Or if you’re on your Mac computer, click the FaceTime icon and you’ll see a FaceTime Audio button.
(Yes, you can make voice calls from your computer and if you haven’t tried it yet, go for it.)
Here are 5 reasons I really like using it over standard phone service when I can.
1. FaceTime Audio beats bad cell service.
Whether you’re stuck in a hotel, an office building, or your own home that’s a cell service dead zone (welcome to my world), FaceTime Audio connects you to any other iPhone user with Wi-Fi. So as long as you’ve got a decent Wi-Fi signal, you can now make the phone calls you were never able to make. Or better, you can actually stay on those calls without dropping someone or cutting in and out. And because you can also do group calls, this can actually make conference calls waaaaay better. As you might know if you’ve ever been cut off mid-call and had to dial back into a conference line.
2. It lets you toggle between FaceTime Audio and FaceTime Video.
It’s actually pretty handy to be able to move between the video and the audio features, whether you’re on a phone call with a colleague and you want to show them something you’re talking about, or if you’re talking to your kids and you need to do a quick switch so they can see you (or um, not). I’ve even used it to continue a conversation that started as video but needed to move to audio so I could leave the house. It’s really handy.
3. FaceTime Audio has got better sound quality. (Mostly.)
I’ve been pretty impressed with how great the sound quality is over FaceTime Audio calls, so much so that I honestly prefer it over regular cell service now. Granted, if your Wi-Fi connection isn’t awesome, then it’s going to affect your sound; but I’ve personally had good luck even over LTE/4G. And if I’ve got an important call to make or receive, I’d rather use the data than try to figure out what the person is saying the entire phone call. So frustrating.
I also hear it’s a great alternative to BlueTooth headsets for online gaming, since your own phone’s headphones are probably more comfy.
4. It’s a dream for International travel.
If you don’t want to spend $3,413 on international calling (not really an exaggeration), or pay premiums to upgrade your plan while you’re traveling, FaceTime Audio is a brilliant alternative. Seeing as pretty much every hotel has Wi-Fi these days, often free in public spaces like the lobby, if not your own room, you can stay connected to friends, family and colleagues while you’re away and save your money for souvenirs. Also consider making your FaceTime calls in coffee shops, museums, airports, or other spots with free Wi-Fi connections. You can’t believe how much it saves you.
5. It can be free…depending on your data plan.
These days, phone calls are becoming so much less prevalent, that a lot of us are opting for calling plans with low call minutes but unlimited data. If like me you have an unlimited or a high limit data plan, you’re covered with FaceTime Audio. With a decent connection, you use about 500KB-2MB of data per minute of calling (you can check your history to see how much data any given call uses) and that can save your minutes. And your money.