There are few things more emblematic of iOS than FaceTime. A definitive forerunner of Apple’s iOS offerings, FaceTime has offered a simple and effective video calling platform to iPhone and iPad users since its release in 2010, eleven years ago (almost to the day).
While it is highly popular among iOS users, it has always fallen short when it comes time for iPhone users to venture beyond the Apple Ecosystem, and communicate digitally with those who prefer Android and Windows devices, for Facetime – unlike other popular communication platforms like WhatsApp, Skype and even text – has only ever been available on iOS devices.
As of 2021, however, this is set to change for the first time. At their highly anticipated WWDC (Worldwide Developer’s Conference) this past June, Apple revealed that their native FaceTime application is heading to Android and Windows phones. Read more about it below.
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The news that Apple’s native FaceTime application will no longer be an iOS – nor Apple hardware – represents something of a turning point in the tech industry.
For Android and Windows phones, of course, this comes as good news. What was once, in all likelihood, something of a bone of contention for non-iOS users – that extra step that stood between making video calls to friends on iPhones – is no longer an issue, and breaking that shell of exclusivity that surrounds the world’s 113 million iPhone users means that the practical (and, admittedly, minor) shortfalls of opting for Android or Windows are less stark.
After all, Apple has, for decades now, prided itself on the brand’s keen sense of exclusivity. Their exclusivity represents the crux of Apple’s marketing techniques, and remains integral to that definitive (though hard-to-describe) line that continues to set Apple products apart from the rest.
Presumably, Apple’s interest in making the FaceTime software available on other operating systems stems from the recent rise of dedicated video communication platforms like Zoom, and the continued popularity of encrypted software like WhatsApp. Still, with the recent controversy surrounding WhatsApp continuing to cause a dramatic deviation in user volumes, Apple’s decision to make FaceTime available for non-iOS devices may well be coming at the perfect time for the tech giant.
This is, of course, only a minor change – something that will impact very few of us in any semi-meaningful way. Still, it signifies a definitive shift away from the rigid exclusivity of Apple’s hardware and software. It is, no doubt, a strategic move by Apple – rather than being a symbolic olive branch between the tech giant and its main rivals or, of course, a friendly gesture toward non-iOS users. While we can make our guesses now, time will tell whether or not it is part of a more comprehensive move toward Android and Windows’ userbases.