The other day I overheard a woman at the coffee shop spiritedly conversing on FaceTime with what I can only presume was her mother. The topic of discussion had been the daughter’s holiday trip, and her mom said something that struck a chord with me: why can’t you show me the photos on here? This got me thinking (at which point I stopped listening in, promised). Since its inception, FaceTime has received dreadfully little attention from Apple. The introduction of FaceTime Audio aside, the service practically makes for an absolute freeze-up in an otherwise constantly forward moving software environment.
As consumers, we have become used to companies spending more resources and time on pet projects of theirs and conversely less on comparably idle services, but what is astonishing is that this analogy does not explain the ongoing neglect of FaceTime. Because for all its faults and plainness, FaceTime is tremendously popular. For reasons only known to the Cupertino giant however, it does barely show in the application’s development. To add insult to injury, the lackluster state is likely to persist for yet another year until the next big software update for iOS rolls in. Never mind the fact this means forever in industry years, but it’s even worse because FaceTime is already adrift of the competition.
With that said, it is time for Apple to start play catch-up and resuscitate the service. Since the coffee shop encounter, I have been mulling over how Apple could ramp up the offering realistically in the near future. Here is what I believe is feasible and crucial for FaceTime to implement within the next year:
If you’re a Skype user and frequently use the iPhone or iPad app to keep in touch with people, then you could benefit from knowing how to limit cellular data use to prevent your capped data plan from burning through your limits too quickly.
Fortunately, Skype comes with some options you can use configure to fine-tune your data usage whenever you’re not connected to a Wi-Fi network.
Microsoft is launching a new Skype Insider initiative which invites users to download pre-release builds and test upcoming features before they’re rolled out to everyone.
Microsoft already has similar programs available for Windows and the Xbox and now Skype users can sign up online at the Skype Insiders registration form. If you decide to participate in the program, you will be permitted to install pre-release builds of Skype alongside your current version of the app.
Microsoft today refreshed Skype for iPhone and iPod touch and Skype for iPad with the ability to send messages to your Skype contacts using Siri. Just say something along the lines “Send message to John on Skype saying what’s up?” and Siri will do the right thing.
Earlier, the app integrated with iOS 10’s CallKit to make VoIP Skype calls behave like traditional phone calls with Lock screen, Phone, Favorites and Contacts integration.
And earlier this week, Microsoft announced a number of other changes that will be coming to Skype for iOS in the coming weeks.
Apple has recently introduced CallKit, a new framework available to developers that allows them to integrate their VoIP apps with the native Phone app user interface. In essence, this is a great addition that puts VoIP apps at virtually the same level as normal phone calls. Incoming Skype or WhatsApp calls, for example, are now displayed fully on the Lock screen, which is an improvement compared to how these calls were handled prior to iOS 10. Likewise, any call placed or received with a supported VoIP app will be logged into the Phone app like a normal call.
This tight integration of VoIP apps and the native Phone app UI can have a downside for some users who might prefer not to see their recent Skype calls history show up in their Phone app. If you’re one of these people, we’ll show you exactly how to stop Skype from showing recent calls in your Phone app.
Two weeks ago, Microsoft-owned Skype launched a major update with Siri, Phone, Contacts and Lock screen integration, courtesy of iOS 10’s new CallKit framework which allows calls from VoIP apps to behave like normal phone calls.
Today, both Skype for iPhone and Skype for iPad received a minor refresh which brings out a toggle for enabling or disabling CallKit integration, the ability to get new contact requests as a notification and under-the-hood fixes and improvements to make the app run more reliably on iOS 10 devices.