FaceTime is a neat little video chatting app that comes installed by default on all iOS products, including the iPhone, iPad. It allows users to video chat with one another without the hassle of dealing with third-party apps. FaceTime can be used over WiFi or over a 3G or 4G data connection, but the app uses a lot of bandwidth, and with limited data per month, it’s not a viable option while on the road.
However, FaceTime lets you take advantage of audio-only calls, which uses less bandwidth, but still delivers better call quality than you would find on a regular call over cellular towers. Plus, it allows you to talk and surf at the same time, which is something you can’t do on Verizon’s network with the iPhone.
Why Make Audio-Only FaceTime Calls?
Essentially, FaceTime Audio calls should offer much better audio quality when chatting on the phone with someone. If you’ve ever had a hard time understanding someone while you’re chatting on the phone, that’s probably because phone calls through cellular towers aren’t that great of quality. FaceTime Audio calls use either WiFi or a 3G/4G data connection, which offers much better audio quality. Plus, it doesn’t use any of your minutes.
FaceTime Audio isn’t extremely hidden within the FaceTime app, but it’s also not very easy to find (we featured it in our “25 Hidden iOS 7 Features” post a while back). The video below demonstrates FaceTime audio calling — read further down to see how it’s done.
Making FaceTime Audio Calls
To initiate a FaceTime Audio call, simply open up the FaceTime app and tap on Contacts in the lower-right corner (or Favorites if you’ve set them up — more on that below). Then browse for the person you’d like to chat with and tap on their name.
You’ll see their phone number with a text bubble and a phone icon to the right of it. Below that, you’ll see the word FaceTime with a camera icon and a phone icon off to the right. The camera icon will start a full FaceTime call with video, while the phone icon will launch an audio-only call; this is what you want.
Tapping on that phone icon will start an audio-only FaceTime call. By default, the audio will come out of the earpiece, so if you want to use the speakerphone (like you would with a full-on FaceTime video call, tap on the Speaker button. Otherwise, it’ll act like just a regular phone call, except that it’ll use WiFi or a data connection rather than cellular towers. This will result in better audio quality both ways.
You can also access FaceTime Audio from within the Phone app. Just tap on the small circled “i” icon to the right of a contact and you’ll be greeted with the same options as above: Tap on the phone icon next to FaceTime to initiate a FaceTime Audio call.
If you have a small group of contacts that you constantly initiate FaceTime calls with, it doesn’t hurt to add them to your favorites list in the FaceTime app.
To do this, open up the app and tap on the Favorites tab in the lower-left corner. Then, tap on the + icon in the upper-right corner; this will show a list of your contacts. Select one and you’ll then be prompted to either add them as a FaceTime Audio favorite or a regular FaceTime favorite.
Select FaceTime Audio and you’ll now see them in your Favorites list. Tapping on their name in the Favorites list will immediately start a FaceTime Audio call.