iOS 7: How to Use FaceTime for Audio Calls Only

| TMO Quick Tip

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.

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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.

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Comments

vpndev

i look forward to using this for international calls. Not so much because it’s free, but because the frequently-choppy video gets “old”.

I wonder if you can switch a marginal-video call to audio-only? Not that making a new one is hard, though.

iJack

“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?”

Why? Because it’s only cellular to cellular. You can’t use it to call your iPhoneless Grandma at home, or the office, or the doctors office, or your kid’s school, or my niece doing volunteer work in Dakar, or to order take-out. Shall I go on?

vpndev

“Shall I go on?”

Please don’t. I used Skype and thought it was good. In engineering terms it’s brilliant.

But while I was traveling in Europe my account was hacked, and fraudsters drained the relatively small credit I had there. No credit cards etc were compromised, nor any devices (iPad, iPhone, MBP). Just Skype.

There are no prizes for guessing why I choose an alternative now.

iJack

You blame Skype that your account was hacked for a small loss?
Now, you can’t even call Europe, or any of the other things I mentioned.
Brilliant.

vpndev

Yes - I *do* blame Skype. A little checking showed that account hacking was rife and Skype was mostly ignoring it.

As for calling Europe and the other things, Google Voice works perfectly well. And does thinks that Skype does not.

Quite brilliant, actually (not that it was a Google invention, though)

iJack

I have Google Voice and GV Mobil + for Google Voice on my iPad, but haven’t been able to get either of them to work. It’s a pity, because Google Voice is my go-to hands-free choice on my Mac. In fact, I hardly ever use my landline at all any more.

Did I install the wrong thing on my iPad?

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