Tech Guide

Apple's big new iPhone update will let you start group FaceTime calls, here's how

Key Points
  • Apple's new iOS 12 operating system rolls out this fall and includes support for group FaceTime video chats.
  • If you're using the iOS 12 public beta now, you can try out group FaceTime with other iOS 12 public beta users.
  • CNBC's Todd Haselton walks you through how group FaceTime works in iOS 12.

Apple's big new software update that will roll out to iPhones and iPads this fall -- iOS 12 -- includes a new group FaceTime feature. That means you'll be able to start a group video chat with up to 32 people on a single FaceTime call.

You'll need to install the iOS 12 public preview to try this for yourself now. Otherwise you'll need to wait until the fall, when Apple rolls out the iOS 12 update to everyone.

Starting a group FaceTime chat is really simple. Here's how to do it:

  • First, start a group chat with everyone you want to join the call. I've found this is a little less buggy than using the FaceTime app.
  • Next, inside the iMessage group chat, tap the top of the screen where Apple displays the icons of the people currently in the text message chain. It looks like this:
Tap the 'FaceTime' button.
  • Now tap 'FaceTime.'
  • Your iPhone will start calling the two other people in your message chain.
  • If your friends are also running the iOS 12 public preview -- or later this fall if they're also running iOS 12 -- they'll be able to join in on the call. I don't know anyone else with it, so my friends didn't pick up.
My friends don't have iOS 12 yet so they can't answer.
  • You can add more people by tapping the menu button on the bottom-right corner:
Tap the menu button on the bottom-right to add people or filters.

Apple will highlight the person speaking by making their video stream the largest section in the FaceTime video chat. If you call folks who aren't able to join with video, they'll have the option to join with audio-only, including from an Apple Watch.

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