At WWDC, Apple announced a new feature for iOS 12 that will allow FaceTime to accommodate up to 32 people at once. This could make Apple a contender in the enterprise video conferencing realm.
A useful new feature Apple introduced at its developer conference will allow multiple parties to participate in a FaceTime group video chat and could be competition for Google Hangouts Chat and Skype for Business.
Before, only two people could participate in a FaceTime video chat. Now, when iOS 12 rolls out later this year, up to 32 people can participate in Group FaceTime. This will make it a strong possibility that the enterprise will find more uses for iOS devices as workplace tools.
Many business groups use Google Hangouts Chat or Skype to communicate with multiple people at once, and the new FaceTime feature will allow for Apple to be a direct competitor to those collaboration tools.
SEE: Hiring kit: IOS developer (Tech Pro Research)
"This year FaceTime is going to take a big leap forward," said Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, at Apple's WWDC in San Jose, CA. "It helps us deepen our connection with people wherever they are."
Group FaceTime chat is a good way for Apple to move into the enterprise, according to Tyler Koblasa, CEO of CloudApp.
"If Apple hopes to expand its workplace offerings, then increasing the number of people who can be on a FaceTime call is a great first step for the company to move further into this space. Apple is already good at creating continuity for consumers across their devices, and business users would likely want this capability expanded to include other areas like video conferencing," Koblasa said.
Being able to use video conferencing in a meeting is essential for a mobile workplace. "As workforces become increasingly more agile, they will become more dependent on cross-team collaboration and communication tools. By encouraging teams to use cameras during conference calls, it will help connect the employees with one another, improve focus and engagement with the discussion, and let users see and react to others' responses, creating a more natural dialogue. This kind of offering from Apple could be the first step to competing on a larger scale for business clients in terms of video conferencing and collaboration," Koblasa said.
Skip Chilcott, global head of product marketing for IR, said, "For small organizations, FaceTime group calling will definitely add a strong option for small group no or low-cost options for real-time communication such as Google Hangouts, Skype consumer, and others that can handle small group video chat."
Larger companies will likely still rely on other team collaboration software options, he said.
"Small groups within larger enterprises will still need the higher enterprise-grade quality with additional capabilities like document/team collaboration, desktop sharing, and corporate directory integration; and with the management and security provided by the corporate IT group. Examples of this are Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, Cisco WebEx teams, and Slack to name a few," Chilcott said.
One key element will be whether employees have Apple devices, according to Paul Bischoff, tech expert and privacy advocate at Comparitech.com.
"I don't think FaceTime group calling will replace Hangouts for the simple fact that Hangouts can be accessed in a web browser, whereas FaceTime requires an Apple device. If your whole team has Apple devices, then it could work, but most office environments use a mix of different devices. Because Hangouts is web-based, it can be used in a web browser on any device, even if the person has never used the device before. That flexibility just isn't available in FaceTime," Bischoff said.
- FaceTime gets 32-person group chats, Animoji support (CNET)
- Photos: All the news you need to know from the WWDC keynote (TechRepublic
- Apple watchOS 5 will include upgraded notifications and extended use of NFC chip (TechRepublic)
- With iOS 12, Siri finally becomes the AI-powered business assistant we needed (TechRepublic)
- WWDC 2018: Apple enables Siri to handle shortcuts, pivots to automation over AI bakeoff (ZDNet)
- iOS 11: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
- WWDC 2018: Older iPhones, iPads will perform better on iOS 12, says Apple (ZDNet)