Want to Make Video Calls On Your Apple Watch? Now There’s an App for That

But you’ll also need a special watch band.
Man Checking Apple Watch Credit: mpohodzhay / Shutterstock
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Despite rumors of a camera-equipped Facebook Watch on the horizon, cameras on smartwatches haven’t really taken off yet — and the Apple Watch is no exception.

Although there have been some indications that Apple has thought about ways it could add a camera to the Apple Watch, there’s been no word at all that Apple is actually working on such an idea beyond the concept stage. The Apple Watch can handle FaceTime Audio calls, but if you want FaceTime Video, you’ll have to reach for your trusty iPhone.

However, that hasn’t stopped a third-party company, Wristcam, from coming up with its own solution. As the name implies, the company’s single eponymous product is a $300 replacement watch band with a built-in 8-megapixel outward-facing “front” camera and a 2-megapixel selfie camera.

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Developed by an ex-Apple engineer, Wristcam connects to the Apple Watch over Bluetooth 5 and includes 8GB of storage to handle up to 2,000 photos or about an hour of video.

The original idea was to add a camera to the Apple Watch so folks could snap photos and record videos in situations where they might not have their iPhone with them or where it might be inconvenient to pull it out. Since there’s no native support for cameras in watchOS, this is all handled through a companion WristCam app that runs on the watch to interface with the camera system.

The company is now taking this to the next level with a feature that will allow you to place and receive video calls on your wrist, Inspector Gadget style.

While this sounds like a cool idea on the surface, it’s essential to keep in mind that since Apple doesn’t expect the Apple Watch to have a camera, this is not FaceTime video calling. Instead, Wristcam users will have to rely on the company’s own app, which also means that you can only call other Wristcam users.

The app also works on the iPhone, so you can call friends and family members who have installed the Wristcam app, but that still makes it pretty limited in scope.

Although Wristcam will likely never work with FaceTime video — when and if Apple ever adds FaceTime video to watchOS, it will be as a result of building a camera into the Apple Watch — the folks behind Wristcam have also introduced a new software development kit, so other App Store developers will also be able to build apps to take advantage of it.

That’s an ambitious idea, but it remains to be seen how many developers will bother. It’s doubtful we’ll ever see mainstream video calling apps like Zoom, or Skype get on board with supporting a pretty niche $300 accessory.

Why the Apple Watch Doesn’t
Support FaceTime Video

If anything, this latest development by Wristcam may just make you wish that Apple would get around to putting a camera in the Apple Watch. However, there are probably several good reasons why the company hasn’t done so.

Firstly, all you need to do is look at the Wristcam to realize that this is a pretty bulky piece of kit. It gets the job done if you need to take photos from your wrist, but it also looks decidedly inelegant. It’s a style that Apple likely would never go for.

As we saw from an Apple patent application three years ago, it would seem that Apple has at least considered the idea of a built-in camera on the Apple Watch. However, Apple isn’t going to do this until it can do it properly.

This most likely involves putting a camera into an Apple Watch band, much like Wristcam has done. Still, it’s unlikely Apple wants to go there until it can figure out how to make a small enough camera sensor that delivers the necessary image quality without making the Apple Watch look like something out of a bad sci-fi movie.

In the meantime, folks who really want video calling on their Apple Watch badly enough can certainly opt for the Wristcam solution. The rest of us will be content with pulling out our iPhones for a proper FaceTime experience.

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