How to Set Up a Group Chat in iOS 12's FaceTime
Editors' Note (Feb. 7, 2019): In January 2019, users discovered a flaw in the Group Chat feature that lets people listen in on you even if you don't answer their call. Apple has since issued a fix via iOS 12.1.4, so make sure you've updated to that version.
Apple’s video chat app, FaceTime, has always been a no-frills way to chat with friends and relatives. But with iOS 12.1, FaceTime now supports up to 32 people. The feature was intended to release alongside iOS 12 in September, but got delayed so Apple could work out some performance issues that were readily apparent if you tried to use Group FaceTime during iOS 12's beta stage.
The FaceTime overhaul lets people drop in and out, creating one endless group video call. The line is always open, but encrypted, so outsiders can’t check in on what you and your group are gossiping about.
To make FaceTime a little more fun, Apple also added filters, stickers, text overlays and the ability to turn yourself into an Animoji or Memoji while you talk.
All of this is a little… chaotic. But in our hands-on time with the new FaceTime, we can’t deny it’s addictive. Here are two ways you can dive into FaceTime’s new group video chats.—Caitlin McGarry
Launch a Group Video Chat in Messages
1. Open the Messages app.
2. Tap on an existing group chat with fellow iMessage users, or start a new one by adding up to 31 iPhone owners. (Your green-bubble pals won’t be able to participate.)
3. Tap on your contacts’ names at the top of the message thread. A new FaceTime option will appear beneath their names.
4. When you tap on FaceTime, your phone will immediately launch a video call. Your icon will live at the bottom right while you wait for your friends to answer. (Presumably as iOS 12 becomes more polished, we'll see faces in those windows where the icons currently live.]
5. Tap on your icon to either end the call or view the filters, text overlays and Animoji/Memoji options. Those are accessible behind the star icon.
6. After you end the call, you can hop back in at any time by tapping the FaceTime icon at the top.
Launch a Group Video Chat in FaceTime
1. Open the FaceTime app.
2. Start a new FaceTime group video chat by using the plus icon to add up to 31 names. You can also tap to join an existing FaceTime group call.
From there, a FaceTime group video call works the same as it does above.