Make Free Calls With FaceTime Audio

Facetime on iPad and iPhone
Apple

FaceTime is a native app in Apple’s iOS that runs on the iPhone and iPad. With the release of iOS 7, FaceTime Audio allows users to make free voice calls internationally over Wi-Fi or their mobile data plan. This was not possible in previous versions, which only allowed video calls. Here is how to get voice calling up and running on your mobile Apple device for free, bypassing expensive cellular minutes.

Why Voice and Not Video?

Not that video isn’t cool, as the old adage goes - an image is worth a thousand words, and a video is worth millions. But, there are moments you would prefer to make a simple voice call. The primary reason is data consumption. Video calling consumes bandwidth and over 3G or 4G/LTE, which are rated per MB of data consumed, it becomes quite expensive. Voice calling requires much less bandwidth, which means it's much less expensive.

Requirements

To make and receive voice calls on FaceTime Audio, you need an Apple iPhone, iPad, or iPod that runs iOS 7 or Mac with OS X 10.9.2 or later. You can upgrade mobile devices that run former iOS versions, but the earliest you can upgrade is the iPhone 4 for smartphones and iPad 2 for tablets.

An Internet connection is also required, as FaceTime Audio will allow you to bypass your cellular network. You can use your Wi-Fi network, which will make everything 100% free, but is bound to its range limitation. 3G and 4G/LTE data plans can keep you connected anywhere but do cost something, although only a small percentage of the amount you would pay for cellular calls.

Setting Up FaceTime

You don’t need to install FaceTime as it is already bundled with the iOS 7 operating system. Any version prior to iOS 7 does not support voice calling on FaceTime.

Moreover, the numbers in your contacts list are already indexed by FaceTime such that you don’t have to enter any new number. You can launch a call right from your phone’s contact list.

To set up FaceTime, in case you just installed your OS or just received your device, go to Settings and select FaceTime. Turn the app on by touching the on/off switch and then select Use your Apple ID for FaceTime. Enter your Apple ID and password. Your phone number will automatically be detected. Complete the registration and confirm.

Making a FaceTime Call

On an iPhone, you can initiate a FaceTime call just like you would initiate a regular call. Touch the Phone icon and select the contact you would like to call. You will then be presented with options, including Message, Call, Video, etc. You will select FaceTime.

Alternatively, on the iPad and iPod, where there is no phone button, you can touch the FaceTime icon on the home screen that will spring the app open, with a list of options for selecting contacts and calling them.

In iOS 7, there is a new option for FaceTime Audio, represented by a phone handset aside the camera, indicating voice and video calling respectively. Touch the phone icon to call the contact you selected. Your contact will be called and a session will start when they take the call.

During a call, you can switch to and from video calling. Video calling will, of course, be subject to your approval and to that of your correspondent. You can end the call by pressing the End button at the bottom, as usual.