Apple’s exclusive chat services, iMessage and FaceTime, force many of us to stay locked into iOS, iPadOS, and macOS to communicate with other Apple users, so chatting with Android-using friends means SMS texts, third-party messaging apps, and third-party video chat services. However, Apple is breaking boundaries with iOS 15 so that we can FaceTime with Android, Linux, and Windows users.
Unfortunately, there’s no FaceTime app for non-Apple users to download and install. Apple recognizes that it needs to open the FaceTime world to compete with services like Zoom, Google Meet, and Facebook Messenger, but it’s not ready to go all out just yet. Instead, iPhone users running iOS 15 can send a FaceTime chat link to anyone with internet access.
While Apple doesn’t sacrifice its end-to-end encryption for FaceTime to let in Android, Linux, and Windows users, it doesn’t offer any security beyond that since there are no password options for joining a FaceTime chat. Anyone with the link to the FaceTime event can join the audio or video chat.
It sounds super easy to join a FaceTime audio or video call from the web, but Apple does state a few requirements. First, if you’re not on an Apple device, you should use the latest version of Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge. Second, sending video requires H.264 video encoding support, which shouldn’t be a problem if using one of those browsers on a smartphone, tablet, or computer.
The first time you open FaceTime on iOS 15, you should see its new UI design, and the second thing you might notice is the large “Create Link” button at the top of the display. When you tap it, iOS 15 will create a FaceTime link that you can send to anyone with an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or macOS computer, as well as any non-Apple device running one of the aforementioned browsers.
If you’d like to label the link, tap “Add Name,” enter the chat’s title, and tap “OK.”
Now, all you need to do is choose how you want to share your FaceTime link. You can select any app or service from the share sheet — whatever makes it easiest to get the link to your non-Apple friends. When they receive the link, it will open their internet browser, and they’ll take the FaceTime call via the web.
You can use FaceTime links for one-on-one conversations between you and an Android, Linux, or Windows user, or they can be used for Group FaceTime calls when you invite more than one person.
Note: Apple’s iOS 15 is currently in beta development. A public beta will be available in July, while the final release isn’t expected until the fall of 2021.
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