Apple has started the beta test of FaceTime on the web: The video chat service can now be used in the browser and thus also allows participation from a Windows PC or Android smartphone. So far, FaceTime has been limited to Apple devices. Communication via the browser should also be protected by end-to-end encryption, as Apple announced last week at the WWDC developer conference.
Video conference by invitation only
The web version of FaceTime works passively: Windows and Android users cannot initiate a video call themselves, but need an invitation link that can be used to take part in a video conference. Such links can be created using the beta of iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and macOS 12 Monterey. The new operating system versions should appear in the fall.
An Apple ID or a FaceTime account are not required to participate in video chats, the link is sufficient. Similar to Zoom, participants only enter a name in the browser and can then, as it were, knock. Other participants in the video conference on Apple hardware can then invite the caller in and throw them out again at any time, as the developers report – a protective function that is obviously intended to prevent zoom bombing from the start. Up to now, there are no advanced tools such as a meeting code or a password to be entered.
Firefox support is currently missing
The web version of FaceTime is limited to basic functions such as camera and microphone selection and mute, and the new grid view can be activated for video chats with many participants. Special functions such as effects, text and screen sharing are reserved for the FaceTime app on Apple’s systems. A Chromium-based browser such as Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge is currently required to use FaceTime on the web; Firefox is not supported.
Apple is making one of its communication services available across platforms for the first time – albeit only to a limited extent. FaceTime was originally intended to be an “open industry standard”, as Steve Jobs promised when it was introduced ten years ago, much to the surprise of his own team – at least nothing came of it. According to internal company emails, Apple was also talking about opening iMessage for Android, but was ultimately rejected for business reasons.