In a huge change to Apple’s strategy, the iPhone maker announced that its video calling service, Facetime, will finally be available on Android and Windows platforms, through the web. Apple announced the update during its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), today. The service was so far available only on Apple’s iOS, MacOS and iPadOS platforms.
The company didn’t announce an exact launch date for Facetime on Android and windows, but said it will be available on the web, which means people will be able to join Facetime calls through web browsers, the way they do on Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebEx and other video collaboration tools right now. Facetime will allow users to share a link to a call with others, so that they can join from the browser.
Facetime has been an integral part of Apple’s famous ecosystem strategy. Along with iMessage, it’s one of the features that keep iPhone users hooked to the platform, and Apple has faced criticism for not bringing it to other platforms. The company’s senior vice president Eddy Cue wanted to bring iMessage to Android back in 2013, but was overruled by others in the company, according to a deposition during the recent Apple vs Epic Games case, around the company’s App Store fees.
Opening up Facetime to other platforms could be a sign that Apple is feeling the pressure from regulators and developers, who have criticized the company for many of its policies. Of course, the change is still small, since Android or Windows users won’t actually be able to start Facetime calls on their own and will need an iPhone user to invite them by sharing a link.
The California-based tech giant announced a bunch of other features for Facetime too, including new ways to share photos on Facetime and SharePlay, a feature that allows users to watch or listen to the same content during a group Facetime call. Platforms like Disney Plus, Hulu, HBO Max and Twitch are working with Apple to add support for Shareplay.
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