Even the greediest of iPhone users had to have been impressed with the recent haul they received in the iOS 12 upgrade. Augmented reality improvements made it easier to share 3D images with your friends. There were important updates to Siri, Photos, CarPlay, and iBooks. They even received a new batch of Animojis.
The crowning glory of iOS 12, at least in our eyes anyway, was the dramatic expansion of FaceTime. In a single upgrade, the flagship video calling app went from being a strict, and rather redundant, one-on-one caller to a goliath capable of hosting up to 32 people.
That improvement got us at VC Daily excited about an iPhone video conference call all over again. Apple’s iconic device does, however, have a few drawbacks in the video calling department. Still, rather than let those dampen our enthusiasm, we’ve decided to share some of our favorite apps and gadgets that make video calling on an iPhone more fun.
After years of humdrum calling, we can now gather a full squad for a video chat, and we want to show you the best way to start a meeting face-to-face.
Get Yourself an iPhone Tripod
The simplest ideas are often the best. For around $20, you can pick up a classy looking little iPhone tripod and go hands-free on your video calls. This one even comes with a bottle opener–perhaps to help you relax a little on social calls? Tripods can accommodate vertical and horizontal calling modes, and the iPhone’s high-quality camera should keep you in focus without any fuss. Best of all, you get to gesticulate and write and clap and hold up your newborn to the online world because you’re no longer cradling a phone in your hands.
Invest in a Headset
Now that FaceTime has expanded so that anyone can host a group video chat, things are going to get noisy. Whether you’re in the office or your favorite coffee spot, the best way to keep your conversation to yourself is by investing in a headset. The best versions cost upwards of $100 and come with discreet microphone booms that are more accurate than the built-in iPhone mic–but you can go cheaper with a pair of Apple EarPods and still keep the volume to a minimum.
Record Your iPhone Video Conference Call
This one’s a little tricky. The world’s most valuable tech brand wants to avoid infringing on any copyright laws (so the theory goes) so it disabled our ability to include sound when recording our iPhone screens. The iOS 11 update added the ability to record whatever’s displayed on your screen–just press the double circle icon from the Control Center–but FaceTime is one of a few apps that won’t allow sound to be captured. You can get around this by connecting your iPhone to a Mac through a lightning cable and using QuickTime (but then, why not just use the Mac to make the call and record it that way?), or by using a third-party screen recording app (we’ve previously recommended Active Presenter).
Recording your video calls leaves you with a lasting social keepsake–or an important reminder of what went on in a meeting–so hopefully iOS 13 will let us capture audio as well as visuals.
Meet Your Android Friends
Despite how generous Apple was in expanding FaceTime to include group calls, there’s still one aspect where they won’t share the wealth. Exclusivity is a key part of the Apple brand and so FaceTime is strictly an iPhone-to-iPhone experience (or Mac/iPad, if that helps). The downside, of course, is that you can’t use FaceTime to reach your friends and colleagues on Android.
There are, however, several video calling apps that will happily bridge the iOS-Android divide, starting with good old Skype. If that’s a little passé for you, try one of VC Daily’s other favorites, like Facebook Messenger, Kik, or the browser-based video chat platform Talky. You can also use your iPhone to tap into subscription-based services like BlueJeans, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams, which make for more professional and well-rounded group video calling.
Make the Most of Your Camera
Apple is due to dazzle us with a new iPhone before the year is out, but it will have a big job on its hands to improve on the excellent visuals and camera tech in its current models. That’s because, if you have an iPhone X or a similar iPhone in your hands already, you’ve got one of the most powerful video conferencing devices at your disposal. Screen size aside–and every smartphone has that problem–the iPhone X has few visual peers. The capacity of the camera and the range of effects and filters available–including video calling with Animojis if that’s your thing–plus the build quality of the Apple brand make the phone as reliable a video calling camera as you’ll find outside of a dedicated webcam. That means true-to-life social calls and professional grade visuals for your business calls so you can maintain the right impression no matter where you join a meeting.