How to make Group FaceTime calls in iOS 12.1

FaceTime group calling is finally here with iOS 12.1, and it allows you to make calls with up to 32 users using audio or video. Discover how to make the most of Group FaceTime on iOS 12 devices.

Image: Cory Bohon/TechRepublic

FaceTime has been available since the introduction of the front-facing camera on the iPhone 4, and since then, not much has changed with the service, aside from Apple adding FaceTime Audio Only calls. iOS 12 changed all of this with Group FaceTime.

FaceTime has been completely rewritten with a brand-new user interface and one very important change: FaceTime now has the ability to support multiple users in a call, which is a feature that many users have been clamoring for over the years. Learn the ins and outs of using FaceTime audio and video with multiple users.

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Upgrade to iOS 12.1

During the WWDC 2018 keynote, Apple promoted Group FaceTime as a feature in iOS 12, and then the company removed the feature from the betas, and it was nowhere to be found in the shipping version of iOS 12.0. However, in the supplemental iOS 12.1 update, Apple has included this FaceTime feature.

Be sure to upgrade your iOS 12 devices to iOS 12.1 to get the FaceTime group calling feature added to your devices. Without iOS 12.1, you will not be able to make or receive Group FaceTime calls.

How to make a Group FaceTime call

FaceTime in iOS 12.1 allows you to make group calls using one of two methods: From the Messages app in a group thread, or from the FaceTime app directly.

From the Messages app

To start a Group FaceTime call from the Messages app when you already have a group thread, perform these steps.

  1. Open the group thread inside of Messages (all users will need to be iMessage users and have FaceTime enabled).
  2. Tap the names of the people in the thread at the top bar.
  3. Select either Audio or FaceTime to initiate a FaceTime call (Figure A).

Figure A


Initiating a Group FaceTime call on a regular basis is easier if you already have the group set up in the Messages app.

From the FaceTime app

To start a Group FaceTime call from the FaceTime app, perform these steps.

  1. Open the FaceTime app.
  2. Select the + button to start a new call.
  3. Enter the names from Contacts, Phone Numbers, or Email Addresses of the people you wish to have a group call with into the To field (Figure B).
  4. Once you've entered at least one person into the To field, two buttons will appear at the bottom of the screen. Select either Video or Audio to initiate either a group video or group audio FaceTime call.

How to join a FaceTime call already in progress

Once you've been sent a FaceTime call and the call is still in progress, you can still join the call even if you missed the notification. There are three ways to join an in-progress call.

  • Tap the notification from the Lock Screen or Notification Center.
  • Tap the Join button within the Messages group.
  • Open the FaceTime app and tap the call button to join the call.

How to add another user to the FaceTime call

If you forgot to add all of the necessary people to the call, it's easy to add another person. To add another user to the current in progress FaceTime call, perform these steps.

  1. From the in progress call screen, select the + button.
  2. Tap Add Person.
  3. Enter the contact's name, phone number, or FaceTime email address.
  4. Tap the Add Person To FaceTime button (Figure B).

Figure B


FaceTime makes adding another user to the call easy with the same interface used for initiating a call from within the FaceTime app.

Image: Apple, Inc.

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By Cory Bohon

Cory Bohon is an indie developer specializing in iOS and OS X development. He runs a software company called Cocoa App and is also a developer at MartianCraft. He was introduced to technology at an early age and has been writing about his favorite te...