Want to take (and make) FaceTime calls, but you don’t have an iPhone 4? No problem — if you have new iPod Touch or a Mac running OS X 10.6.6 or later.
Mac owners can buy the FaceTime app for $.99 on the App Store. Use it to take calls from or place calls to any other FaceTime-equipped device— iPhone 4, new iPod Touch, or Mac. To “call” a computer or iPod Touch, select the person’s email address from your contacts list. To call an iPhone, dial the iPhone number. (If you call a phone or computer that does not have FaceTime enabled, your call will not go through.)
I confess that I haven’t been fan of FaceTime on the iPhone, and rarely use it except when I’m working on updates to Take Control of iPhone Basics. I find the iPhone’s second, user-facing camera, makes me look like something peering into a funhouse mirror.
The Mac’s iSight camera is just one factor that makes FaceTime on a Mac a real pleasure:
- I have access to my Address Book contacts list, and don’t have to “build” a new one just for the calling app.
- When a call comes it, FaceTime pauses iTunes (just as is does on the iPhone); your music resumes when you end the call.
- I can now use FaceTime on my iPhone with friends and colleagues who don’t have iPhones but who do have Macs. Showing them real-time video while talking is much more convenient than taking and emailing photos and waiting for a response. (“Did you want the large blue vase, or the smaller green one, Mom?”)
The FaceTime interface on the Mac includes controls to double the size of the viewing screen, to mute the call, and to end it. There are no conference call capabilities (as there are in iChat).
Note: If you are working on your Mac during a FaceTime call, and move a file over the FaceTime window on your screen, you can no longer see the caller. But keep in mind — the caller, viewing you through your computer’s iSight, can still see you!