Take this one with a heaping dose of sodium chloride, folks, but a sketchy new rumor that surfaced early Wednesday morning alleges that Apple could be gearing up to release the highly-requested FaceTime group calling feature as part of the forthcoming iOS 11 software update. In practice, the feature would allow iOS device users to communicate via Apple’s advanced video conferencing protocol in groups consisting of greater than two users. Group FaceTime calling is a feature that has long been requested by Apple fans and loyalists, alike.
The rumor was first reported by the Israeli publication, The Verifier, on Wednesday morning, citing unnamed sources with knowledge of Apple’s imminent plans. It’s important to note that Israel has become a hub for technological growth and innovation over the last few years, and is the home country of such firms as LinX, which was acquired by Apple in late 2015 and was responsible for part of what went into the company’s dual-lens camera on the iPhone 7 Plus; as well as Waze, the firm behind the crowdsourced GPS navigation app, which was acquired by Google back in 2013. So while the sources of this rumor may be unidentifiable by name, there’s a reasonable chance they are in some way affiliated with Apple, or any of the few-dozen engineers that Cupertino currently has working in the country.
And while this rumor is, at least for the time being, ‘a rumor’, and not much else, it would obviously be of benefit to Apple if the company finally released a viable group-calling feature for FaceTime. Seeing as how some of Cupertino’s fiercest competitors — such as Microsoft with its Skype platform, and Facebook with its dedicated Messenger app — are already offering solutions for groups of users who want to conduct chats, Apple would essentially be playing catch-up at this point. But being tardy to the party is certainly more preferable than not showing up at all, right?
We’ve also heard rumors, and seen plenty of evidence, might we add, that suggest Apple is getting serious about its front-facing FaceTime HD cameras, which has in turn fostered a richer, more picture-perfect FaceTime experience. For example, the company updated its long-in-the-tooth 2 MP FaceTime cameras on the iPhone 6 and prior, when it unveiled a 5 MP snapper on the iPhone 6s back in 2015. Similarly, the company unveiled an advanced 7 MP FaceTime camera on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus last fall.
So if the trend continues, not only will the quality of FaceTime chats improve, accordingly, but in a matter of just months — when Apple takes the stage at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) to give us a sneak-peak at iOS 11 — we’ll finally find out, once and for all, if this group calling feature is actually coming to iPhone and iPad this year.
Could you see yourself conducting a FaceTime call with more than two people? Let us know in the comments below!