Making Free Calls on iOS with FaceTime Audio

Free Voice Calls on Your iPad and iPhone

Mac Pro Yosemite

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 worldwide 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 Apple portable device for free, bypassing your expensive cellular minutes.

Why Voice and Not Video?

Not video isn’t very cool, as an image is worth a thousand words; and a video is worth millions. But there are moments you would prefer simple voice. The first reason is data consumption. Video calling consumes bandwidth and over 3G or 4G, which are rated per MB of data consumed, it becomes quite expensive. Voice calling is much less bandwidth hungry.

What You Require

To make and receive voice calls on FaceTime Audio, you need a mobile device that runs iOS 7. You can upgrade devices that run former iOS versions, but the earliest you can upgrade is the iPhone 4 for smartphones and iPad 2 for tablets.

You also require an Internet connection, 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 which has the range limitation. 3G and 4G/LTE data plans can keep you connected anywhere under the sky but do cost something, although only a small percentage of the amount you would pay for cellular calls.

You will however need your SIM card and your phone number, since this is what will identify you on the network. You register with your Apple ID.

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 and touch “Use your Apple ID for FaceTime”. Enter your Apple ID and password. Your phone number will automatically be detected. Complete the registration and confirm.

Launching FaceTime

On a smartphone, you initiate a FaceTime call just like you would initiate a regular call. Touch the Phone icon and select a contact. You will then be presented with options. You will select FaceTime.

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

Now in iOS 7, there is a new option for FaceTime Audio, represent 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 you usually do.

FaceTime Alternatives

This app is proprietary within the closed iOS system, but VoIP offers much more than that. You can have a whole lot of other apps and services that allow you to make free voice and video calls worldwide on your iOS device.