How to Group Facetime

Get family and friends together for video calls

group video chat

image credit: Michael Haegele/Corbis/Getty Images

Using FaceTime to see the person you're talking to is great, and a group FaceTime should be even better. So how do you group FaceTime with three or more people? There's one major obstacle–but also some ways around it.

There's No Group FaceTime

The biggest challenge to having a group FaceTime video call is that FaceTime simply doesn't support it. This may change in the future (more on that later), but for now, FaceTime only supports video calls between two people. But that's the out-of-the-box version of FaceTime. There are some add-on tools that can deliver a FaceTime group chat.

Group FaceTime with iMessage Apps

Apple introduced iMessage apps in iOS 10. These are mini-apps that you can add to Messages, the texting app that comes pre-installed on every iPhone and iPad. These apps add features and functionality on top of iMessage. Some iMessage apps deliver group video chat.

While there are always new apps being added, a few of the current apps that deliver group video chat include:

  • Google Hangouts: Video chat with up to 10 people. Free
  • Houseparty: No information on participant limits, if any. Free
  • JusTalk Group Video: No information on participant limits, if any. Free, with in-app purchases
  • Rooms Live: Video chat with up to 5 people. Free.

Learn how to find and install iMessage apps in How to Get iMessage Apps and Stickers for iPhone.

Group FaceTime Audio Calls

The one kind of group communication that FaceTime supports by default is audio calls. Apple added the ability to make phone calls using FaceTime technology in iOS 7. These are just like normal phone calls, but sent through Apple instead of your phone company.

The iPhone's Phone app supports conference calls for up to 3 people. FaceTime Audio also supports group calls for up to 3 people. To use it, place a FaceTime Audio call, then add a third party to the call in the same way you would during a normal phone call.

Other Options for Group Video Call

There may not be group FaceTime video chat using FaceTime itself, but if "FaceTime" means any video-chatting tool, there are lots of other options that run on the iPhone and iPad.

Everyone you want to group video chat with needs to have these apps installed on their device, which is where these apps have an advantage over FaceTime. FaceTime only works on Apple devices running the iOS and macOS. Other video-chat apps run on iOS and macOS, and also on Android, Windows Mobile, and Windows. That means you can chat with much wider range of people. These apps include:

Group FaceTime: A Future Feature?

As we've seen, there's no way to group FaceTime using the FaceTime app itself–for now. In fact, there's a high likelihood that future versions will support at least 3-way FaceTime chats, if not chats with even more participants.

We can say that because FaceTime actually has supported group chats in the past. The feature was part of some beta versions of iOS 11, but Apple removed it before the final version of iOS 11 was released. There's no word on why Apple did this, but it's pretty common for the company to try out features in beta software and then remove them before launch. (Want to get access to beta versions of the iOS? Check out Apple's free public beta program.)

However, since the group FaceTime feature has existed in the past and it's present in so many other apps, we should expect to see it in an official version of FaceTime sooner than later.