Every once in a while I find a piece of software that is essential and makes my life that much easier and better. Unfortunately, it’s not always compatible with every device I own. Hence why I started researching FaceTime for Android. I wanted to know whether in 2015 there are any tips or tricks to use FaceTime to video chat with other Android users or if it’s still solely for iOS.
Below I will break down what your options are, some great alternatives, and whether or not you should consider switching to the iPhone or stick with Android as the best option. there are a lot of various options but there are pros and cons to each option so you’ll have to make the choice yourself which option is best for you.
In case you’re unfamiliar with FaceTime, I’ll provide a quick rundown on the app and why it’s become so incredibly popular in the video chatting business. It’s taken over other hugely popular services like Skype and become the number 1 video chatting app.
“FaceTime is going to change the way we communicate forever.” – Greg Joswiak, 2010 WWDC
What is FaceTime?
You have likely heard of FaceTime even if you haven’t used it before. FaceTime was released in 2010 and since has grown to become one of the most popular video calling software, used in personal life, business calls, ceremonies, and get togethers. FaceTime will allow anyone with another Apple device to call completely for free anyone else with an Apple device.
The whole call happens over your local WiFi or on the cellular network for your iPhone or iPad. Therefore, you won’t ever need to pay for long distance calls or pay for extra minutes. Since it’s completely over the internet, you will need a stable and decently fast internet connection for the video streaming to happen without any hiccups.
In the last couple years FaceTime has included features to allow audio only calls so you don’t have to include video when speaking with someone. This is especially helpful when you have a limited connection and the video is cutting in and out. You can switch to audio only and the audio quality will increase significantly.
Another feature is that FaceTime is not meant to have conference calls where there are several parties online. You can only call from 1 device to another device and there is no functionality to include a 3rd caller. Of course, you can just call and have more than 1 person on the line on any given end.
Apple has received recognition on how easily and seamlessly the FaceTime protocol works and has been given high scores in safety and security compared to other mass messaging services. This is because all data is encrypted on transit and even Apple can’t decrypt the message.
Is FaceTime for Android Available?
At this point there is no FaceTime for Android available as Apple simply has not made the FaceTime protocol open. Several years ago, Steve Jobs announced that Apple would start to make the FaceTime protocol an open industry standard and thus allow 3rd party software developers use it. However, at this time, FaceTime still requires a client side certificate which limits the ability to use the software on anything other than Apple devices.
My assumption is that Apple will not open up FaceTime for other platforms as this is what helps give Apple a competitive advantage over other platforms such as Windows, Android, Windows Phones, etc. This will be just 1 more piece of software that will help Apple get new customers.
One of the key selling points of Apple is that the hardware and software seamlessly integrate and just work perfectly together. For that reason there isn’t much incentive for Apple to branch out and let other platforms use their software. Partially because they would have to remake the software so that it matches the new hardware and works just as seamlessly.
If you’re set on using FaceTime and don’t want to settle for an alternative, really the only way is to purchase an Apple product. The cheapest new Apple product that comes with FaceTime is the iPod Touch, which starts at $199. This will give you the ability to make and receive FaceTime calls without having to settle for something different. Also, if you’re not set on something new, you could always check out eBay or Craigslist and purchase a used iPod, iPhone, iPad, or a Mac computer. It all depends on what you want to use it for and how much you have to spend. If you only want to use the FaceTime feature, just buy a used iPod Touch for less than $100 and you’ll be set.
FaceTime for Android Alternatives?
Luckily for you, if you’re set on sticking with Android there are a lot of great alternatives that will help you connect with anyone you want to connect with. Many of the options have different pros and cons and therefore I’ll cover everything you need to know about some of the best FaceTime alternatives so you can make an educated decision on what to use.
All of the options below are completely free, however they may ask for certain paid options depending on what you want to do and whether you want to unlock some features. Remember as well that both users need to have the software installed for it to work. One nice thing about FaceTime is it’s preinstalled on any Apple device and therefore you don’t need to get anything new. However, with the options below you’ll need to install the software, apart from Google Hangouts, which comes preinstalled!
Google Hangouts is one of the best alternatives to FaceTime for Android and comes preinstalled on every Android device from smartphones to tablets. Of course this is Google’s proprietary VOIP video and text chat service. The biggest upside to using Google Hangouts as opposed to FaceTime is because it is integrated with everyone with a Google account. That means you can practically message anyone, however they would need to specifically download Google Hangouts or access it through the webpage to see it.
I find that if I’m on my iPhone a lot some people will message me on Google Hangouts but then I’ll never get the missed message since I typically don’t check it on my iPhone. This can be a downside since you may miss some messages if you’re not setup with an Android device. On the upside, you can use Google Hangouts on a Mac, which means no matter what device you’re on you can send and receive messages.
Another great upside to Google Hangouts that FaceTime cannot do is support up to 10 people talking at once to each other. This means it’s great for a conference call or if you’re in a classroom or a small group you can all chat together.
I would say a downside is that you’ll find it is a bit more glitchy and spotty than FaceTime and may cut out a bit. Overall it’s pretty good and greatly depends on your local internet connection between each device. Another disadvantage is that if you have an iPhone you may not always get the messages, especially if you don’t have the Google Hangouts installed, but that’s a pretty easy fix.
The next best option for video messaging and audio calls is to use Skype, which has been around since 2003 and is one of the most established video chat services around. You’ll find that Skype can be accessed from practically any device with an internet connection. Skype was acquired by Microsoft, which was bought to replace the Windows Live Messenger. Initially the Android operating system was not well integrated Skype and it was onerous to send and receive messages and add contacts. Since then, the Skype app has become better integrated and therefore is widely used among Android users that want a good replacement to FaceTime.
You’ll notice that Skype is completely free to make and receive calls using Skype. However, you can add minutes to your account and call cell phones around the world using a low cost per minute compared to a normal international cell phone call. Again, Skype solely uses an internet connection so you have to make sure you’re connected to the internet, even to use the minutes to call as it won’t use cell phone tower for calling.
The last service I’ll recommend is Viber, which is another good replacement to FaceTime and will allow you to make audio calls, text messages, and recently introduced video chat last year. This is a good alternative if your friends are on Viber, otherwise they won’t be able to receive any messages as the only way to send and receive messages through Viber is to have the app installed.
It’s a good alternative but honestly doesn’t do much that Google Hangouts or Skype doesn’t do so I would try one of those two options first and if you’re not happy with them you can try Viber as an alternative. Viber does have a pretty cool interface that is intuitive and easy to learn.
That wraps up this guide and hopefully gave you a good sense of the FaceTime for Android options out there. Unfortunately there aren’t any perfect solutions but as of now there are great alternatives and if you really want to use FaceTime, you could simply buy a cheap iPod Touch to use. You can easily find one for $100 on eBay or Craigslist and that will give you access to FaceTime.
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