WWDC 2021 || Apple Opens FaceTime Video Chat For Windows And Android

The iPhone manufacturer Apple is competing more intensely with providers such as Zoom: FaceTime should also be accessible to users of Android and Windows systems in the future.

Apple wants to play a bigger role in video chats after the boom in services like Zoom. In return, the in-house video service FaceTime is getting new functions - and for the first time it will also be available to users of Android smartphones and Windows computers.

You will be able to join the video chat via the web browser, as Apple manager Craig Federighi said at the start of the WWDC developer conference. So far, FaceTime could only be used on Apple devices.

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In addition, you will be able to listen to music and watch videos together in FaceTime in the future without interrupting the chat. The function will be available for the Disney + streaming service, but also for the TikTok video app.

For the first time, users will be able to be invited to a FaceTime chat via a link - as is common with the Zoom video conferencing service, for example. Apple has also improved the software with ambient noise suppression and a portrait mode with a blurry background.

Shall we have a FaceTime movie night?

After a year of pandemic, Apple now wants to get involved in video conferences. It introduced new FaceTime features at the WWDC conference. Bit late, but from Apple.

Watching films with friends, even though everyone is at home. Hide background noise in video calls. In multi-person video calls, hear each participant from the direction of the side of the screen on which they are viewed. Sounds like great features for a time when everyone has to stay home because of a pandemic. 

Apple did not present these features for its video chat program FaceTime a year ago , but on Monday evening German time during the opening keynote of the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) - and they will not be available to everyone until autumn. So at a time when we can hopefully meet again in person to watch films together. Only then will not only Apple users be able to use FaceTime, but also all those who use Android or Windows devices, for example , which is supposed to turn the phone-with-video app into a video conferencing tool that is competitive with Zoom and Microsoft.

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Even if video telephony will certainly continue to be an important part of many people's everyday lives - Apple is late with the FaceTime functions. It would not be the first time that the company presented an application later than the competition and still had great success with it. At first glance, the new FaceTime doesn't seem like such a stroke of genius.

The other functions presented are also more developments than revolutions. It is perhaps too much to ask to expect something as new every year as what Tim Cook announced at the WWDC Keynote 2020: Apple will in future rely on its own processors instead of using Intel's chips. The in-house M1 processor was less of an issue this year than some expected. And this time Apple did not have a message of comparable scope to offer.

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Instead, the company presented at WWDC what is known from WWDC: software . As expected, Apple's software boss Craig Federighi presented new versions of the Apple operating systems for computers, smartphones, smartwatches and other devices during the almost two-hour presentation. 

Functions for everyone who is already properly applied

The new MacOS is now available for laptops and desktop computers such as the iMac or Mac mini. Like the previous versions, this one also bears the name of a California landmark, in this case a coastal city and bay of the same name: Monterey. With the new operating system it will be possible, among other things, to control several Apple devices with just one mouse and keyboard. For example, users can drag a file from an iPad with the trackpad of a MacBook into a folder on the hard drive of an iMac. 

Apple's own browser, Safari, also has functions designed to help you switch seamlessly between your computer and mobile device. So-called tab groups, i.e. collections of several open websites, for example on a certain topic, should be immediately available on all devices. 

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Like many of the functions presented, this should be of particular interest to people who are already deeply immersed in the Apple system. In the iPhone operating system iOS 15, for example, newspaper articles, TV series or music that friends have sent via iMessage should be displayed as recommended content in the respective apps. Provided, of course, that everyone involved uses Apple News, Apple Music or Apple TV. Anyone using Android will not be able to send or receive iMessage messages anyway, and that will still not change.

The new iOS, iPadOS and MacOS, which will all be available as a beta version from July, bring many common functions and are growing closer together. Only a few weeks ago, however, Cook had expressly denied that the MacOS and iOS operating systems could merge. 

On all three platforms, for example, there are individual and self-learning do not disturb settings and a search function that is supposed to recognize handwritten text on photos. The latter in particular looks impressive in the presentation - and a little creepy when image recognition software analyzes every snapshot, calls every blurred telephone number with a tap of the finger and every landmark photographed can be assigned to a location using image recognition. 

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Speaking of scary: Apple summarizes in the presentation which areas of life can be organized using Apple products. A small selection: car keys and (new) US driver's license via wallet app. Long-term monitoring of important vital values   via the health app, can now be shared with family members on request. And of course all surveillance cameras around the house via HomeKit. 

After all: Apple assures that it attaches great importance to privacy with all this sensitive data. In fact, the group has been actively promoting the topic - and reasonably credible - for some time. The keynote address was explicitly dedicated to data protection. Apple is already taking action against advertising tracking in apps . Now the Mail app is also supposed to prevent tracking programs - so-called tracking pixels - from seeing whether someone opens an email. In addition, the Safari browser should be able to disguise its own IP address. And the Siri voice assistant is being modified so that voice recognition only happens locally on the device, so no data has to flow to a server. This is made possible by powerful chips. Data protection through high-tech - this is how Apple likes to see itself. 

The App Store as a great business model - for Apple

WWDC is a multi-day event for developers of software for Apple devices. There are honors successful apps and new technology in technical discussions explained. The conference costs Apple 50 million US dollars each year, said Apple manager Phil Schiller recently, probably also to show how important good relationships with developers are to the company. 

At the moment, however, it is more the software manufacturers who are making the headlines who are not happy with the conditions that Apple is setting. Disputes between Apple and the game manufacturer Epic Games and the music streaming provider Spotify revolve largely around the fact that software for iPhones and iPads can practically only be sold through Apple's own app store and that the company is allowed to sell 30 percent of the amount for each transaction as a commission, with smaller companies still 15 percent since the end of last year.

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 That this is unfair is not only felt by competing companies such as Spotify, but also by the EU Commission . If the Californian judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who will speak her verdict in the Apple against Epic Games trial in the coming months , comes to a similar conclusion, app developers could be allowed to offer iPhone apps outside the app store in the future. The good relationships with developers should also be important to Apple for this reason.  

The Apple employees did not say a word about the legal process or the 30 percent commission during the keynote address. To be on the safe side, they emphasized once again that the App Store is a safe and trustworthy place for users and a "great business opportunity" for developers. Shortly before the meeting, the company announced that female developers had sales and revenues of $ 643 billion in 2020, 24 percent more than the previous year - all generated through the App Store. 

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Now developers should get new opportunities to present their apps in the store and to organize and advertise in-app events. This is certainly nice for some software providers, but it does not change the basic conditions in the App Store. It is unlikely to be a breakthrough that could silence app store critics such as Epic Games.

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