Unsurprisingly, when my friends encounter a problem with their phone, tablet or laptop, they come to me for help. I’m their nerdy friend that writes about technology so naturally, I am usually the first person they call. I am also apparently the first person they call when the discover something that dramatically improves their experience.
Recently, I had two of my good friends tell me about an iOS 7 feature called FaceTime Audio. FaceTime Audio, they said, improved their call quality. And then one of my friends asked something that at the time, seemed so ridiculous, that I had to laugh: “Why didn’t you tell me about this feature sooner?”
I laughed because this is a feature that was detailed on stage when Apple announced iOS 7. It’s a feature that my co-workers and I started using just hours after installing iOS 7 back in September. It’s also a feature that Gotta Be Mobile included in our 25 Hidden iOS 7 Features from last year.
Evidently, to my friends (and probably many other iPhone users around the world), it’s this big hidden secret that Apple and I were keeping from them.
My friends were right about one thing. FaceTime Audio is hidden away inside iOS. It doesn’t jump out at you and Apple doesn’t supply any signs that lead the way. So while I was initially surprised that my friends, who have been iPhone owners for years, just discovered FaceTime Audio, I quickly understood.
FaceTime Audio is a feature that TechCrunch called the “biggest little feature” inside iOS 7. And in my opinion, that declaration holds up, even now several months after the arrival of iOS 7.
The feature, at its most basic level, is VoIP calling that is built into Apple’s FaceTime service. In other words, it can help cut down on your monthly phone bill when used over Wi-Fi. It also provides free international calling.
What FaceTime Audio also delivers, and this is why my friends got excited, is a call experience that is immensely better than the sound delivered through a basic phone call. One of my friends literally described the experience of talking to me on FaceTime Audio as “surreal.” He could actually hear me and hear me clearly. It was a pretty magical experience when I used the service for the first time, back in September, too.
It’s night and day, black and white. When I can, I always choose to make FaceTime Audio calls over regular ones, especially when connected to Wi-Fi. It’s a much cleaner experience than when it’s used over a cellular network, even 4G LTE.
If this was a secret to my friends, who I think have a finger on the pulse of the tech world, it’s probably a secret to many other people and so I want to show you, very quickly, how to improve your call experience.
To place a FaceTime Audio call, you have two options.
- When in FaceTime, you can place a FaceTime audio call using your contacts list by tapping the phone icon.
- When in Contacts, simply tap the FaceTime phone icon to place a FaceTime audio call to the contact you are viewing.
It’s that simple and who knows, you might have the same “surreal” experience that one of my friends did a few weeks ago with FaceTime Audio, a feature that again, has been out since September.