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Back to the Mac: FaceTime on the Mac

It’s one of the things we predicted last week, and something everybody has been clamoring for: FaceTime for Mac. It was just announced at Apple’s (s aapl) Back to the Mac event, and luckily, we won’t even have to wait for 10.7 to arrive next summer to get it.

Jobs started the announcement of the feature by talking about the number of users who already have a FaceTime enabled device: already 19 million since debut of the iPhone 4, the first with the feature, four months ago.

He then went on to demo the new Mac application. Note that this isn’t built into iChat; it’s a standalone app. Sitting down at the demo Mac, he fired up the program and initiated a FaceTime call to Phil Schiller. During this call, he demonstrated a couple of great features.

First was how easy it is to start a call: just click the name of the contact you want to call. It draws from your Address Book, so you shouldn’t have to add new contacts if that’s up-to-date. Also, if your recipient is on an iPhone 4 or a new FaceTime-enabled iPod touch, and they re-orient their device, the window on your Mac turns to keep the view consistent.

There’s a beta of FaceTime for Mac available for free today, ready to download from the Apple website. This is a nice step forward for the video calling service from Apple.

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3 Responses to “Back to the Mac: FaceTime on the Mac”

  1. Also found out that there are special FaceTime URLs you can type into Safari to get FaceTime to pop up and call someone. They are:




    (Obviously you replace with the details of the person you want to call. I also note that FaceTime is smart enough not to let you call yourself.

  2. I just downloaded FaceTime for Mac and tested it with a friend who has an iPhone 4.

    Video quality was high, as you’d expect with both devices on Wi-Fi, as was audio. A nice touch is you can receive a FaceTime call on your Mac even if the application isn’t running. It opens itself when you get a call. There are also so slick animations, such as the window rotating when the iPhone was put into landscape, and there was a nice flipping effect when my contact swapped to the rear camera on his iPhone.

    All in all, FaceTime on the Mac is pretty nice. The only gripe I have is that it’s a standalone app and isn’t built into iChat.