Even though it is taking place online once again due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Apple still has plenty of things to announce during this year’s edition of the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Interesting enough, one of the products that seemed to have received plenty of attention from the company this time around is FaceTime.
For starters, Android and Windows users will soon be able to participate in a FaceTime session via FaceTime Link which can be created and shared by iPhone, iPad, and Mac users. The link can even be passed around through third-party apps such as WhatsApp and others.
Even though the session will take place through a web browser for users on non-Apple devices, the company stated that the session will continue to be end-to-end encrypted. They do need the latest version of Chrome or Edge browsers in order to participate in the FaceTime session.
Another new feature coming to FaceTime is called SharePlay which would allow users to share TV shows and movies as well as songs through Apple Music with other users. The feature is also inclusive of shared playback control and users with Apple TV can choose to have the video content to be shown on their TV or display while they continue communicating via FaceTime.
Apple has also allowed streaming services to integrate SharePlay into their own app. Among those that have signed up so far is Disney+, ESPN+, HBO Max, Hulu, MasterClass, Paramount+, Pluto TV, TikTok, and Twitch with more to come soon enough. Of course, users can use SharePlay to simply share their screen with other people within the FaceTime session.
Not enough with that, Apple has also revealed two new microphone modes for FaceTime with one of them is called Voice Isolation which utilizes machine learning to cut down background noises. On another hand, there is also the Wide Spectrum mode which would allow ambient sound to be more audible.
Spatial audio is coming to FaceTime as well which is not exactly surprising since Apple has also made such feature available for AirPods Pro and AirPods Max while the company is also rolling out Dolby Atmos tracks into Apple Music. In the case of FaceTime, Apple described the experience as if the voices come from the direction of where they are located on the user’s screen.
FaceTime will also receive a Portrait mode of its own but this particular feature together with spatial audio can only be utilized by Apple devices with at least an A12 Bionic processor. Last but not least, there will also be a new grid view that the company said will enable users to see more faces at the same time, thanks to the usage of same-sized tiles.
All of these new FaceTime features and more will be delivered through iOS 15 which has just entered the developer preview stage today. End users that participate in Apple’s beta program will be able to test drive iOS 15 in July while the finalized version is scheduled for release sometime this fall.