We tend to think of using FaceTime for a face-to-face video and audio call to a smiling face. But did you know that iOS 7 introduces the ability to make audio calls only? Here's how to do it.
First, it may be helpful to review how to make the initial FaceTime connection to another person. See "Set Up Apple’s FaceTime and Make it Always Work."
Next, from either the new FaceTime app in iOS 7 or the Contacts app, navigate to the person of interest. You'll see something like this if that person is available for FaceTime.
Contacts. The view from the Facetime app is similar.
Instead of tapping the movie camera icon, tap the telephone handset icon. You'll hear a ring, as if it were a regular cell call.
When the call starts, you'll see a display, somewhat like the display you see in a conventional cell call, but modified for use with FaceTime audio.
Dialer in FaceTime audio
Why would you want to do this? First of all, in the brief testing I've done, the VOIP call quality is very, very good. Also, you won't use up minutes with your carrier, especially those moderately expensive overseas calls.
Finally, an audio call is often more convenient physically. You won't have to tire your arm to hold the iPhone just right and orient the front-facing camera. Finally, if you're not in the mood to show your face after a night of hard partying, an audio call can be more, well, discreet.
Of course, Skype works too. But that's a Microsoft product. Why not use an Apple app so elegantly integrated with your iOS Contacts list?
Finally, from our testing, FaceTime audio only appears to work from iOS to iOS device. We couldn't make a FaceTime audio call to a Mac.