Carrier disruption? Apple’s iOS 7 FaceTime Audio brings free long distance calling to iPhone users

“With iOS 7, Apple will introduce FaceTime Audio, a first-party voice over IP extension of the company’s video calling service that could disrupt the mobile industry by bringing free long distance and international calling to iPhone users around the world,” Mikey Campbell reports for AppleInsider.

“FaceTime Audio could be a game-changing addition to Apple’s mobile operating system, even more so than the video calling service it’s built on,” Campbell reports. “In the iOS 7 beta, FaceTime Audio can be found wherever the usual video version of the service is implemented. For example, users can place calls from the Phone app, the dedicated FaceTime app and Messages, among others. For now, the service appears is Wi-Fi only, though that could change before the OS is released this fall.”

Campbell reports, “Because the iPhone is used by so many, a baked-in VoIP solution that is readily accessible and easy to use could face opponents in the wireless industry as the data-based service could disrupt long-distance calling revenue streams.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Dan King” and “Sarah” for the heads up.]

31 Comments

    1. But other than being able to initiate a Facetime Audio call from more places within iOS, how is this different from the Facetime that’s already available?

      Another site compares it to traditional VOIP like Skype, but you can already make free “calls” to any other FT-capable iPhone anywhere in the world, and switch to audio-only just by sending the FT session into the background.

      And since I’m not on AT&T I’ve already been able to do this (voice or audio FT) using cell data for a long time–no silly wifi-only limit.

      “Free long distance” in this context means you can reach *any* phone–landlines, Blackberries, Androids, etc, not just iPhones, but I haven’t come across anything confirming this.

      1. There is a very thin technical difference but a huge usability difference. How is iMessage different from ICQ, Skype? Not allot but at the same time is a huge difference.

        This will be a revolution.

        1. It is a usability improvement yes.

          To your analogy: iMessage you can only connect to other iOS devices and Macs, with a fallback to text message. ICQ and Skype you can use on most devices.

          Apple itself doesn’t seem to be using the term “long distance” with Facetime Audio, just the media. Long distance has a specific meaning and expectations attached to it, and Apple likely doesn’t want a repeat of when they had to change the description of the iPad last year from “Wifi + 4G” to “Wifi + cellular”

    2. Do people actually spend a lot of money on long-distance? Anyone who needs long distance can usually pay a nominal fee and get very cheap long-distance to ANY phone, landline, Telex, company switchboard.

      Anyone with long overseas calls generally use Skype or something similar or get a cheap long-distance package. Facetime audio is a natural evolution, but if I were to say game changer, I’d say the original Skype. Now, if Facetime was open to all systems, like Apple originally said they were going to do… then it’s closer to a game changer.

      1. But instead, Apple has chosen for a myriad of different situations, depending on
        (i) what (which version of) OS you have,
        (ii) which version of hardware you have.

        Currently, no 2 systems are the same. This is no context to use planned obsolescence to highlight the capabilities of the newest and the finest. Most power iOS/OSX users don’t fully grasp how to optimally configure their devices, let alone ordinary people.

        Apple: please fix the interoperability problem before others (such as Skype) completely rule the world.

  1. All major carriers denied Verge requests’ to comment on whether they will block FaceTime audio (as they blocked FaceTime for a long time altogether). So lets see if this is a case to be happy about.

  2. That’s definitely help me because I live in a rural, wooded area with dicey cell coverage. I need to put on the tinfoil hat, stand on a chair and face the west to be able to establish a reliable connection. This VOIP would rock!

    (And hey, I was just kiddin’ about the tinfoil hat, OK? That only comes out for special occasions…)

    1. yep, the world has changed. time was, in my distant youth, that expensive long distance charges basically subsidized inexpensive local calls – or “basic service”. now it seems to be the other way around.

      and given the cost of basic service these days, it doesn’t seem to all that good of a trade.

      so now if mr. apple decides to go the direction indicated in this piece, the telco’s always have the option of no longer offering apple phones for sale or, perhaps even allowing them on their networks. not much incentive any more to pay premium rates to be able to have mr. apples phones as a selling point, especially now that other makers are madly emulating and trying to bring their phones more in line with many of the features and abilities that cupertino has set as the standard for smart phones.

      gonna be real interesting to watch this one sort itself out.

  3. Having a stable voice only call is great specially when bandwidth is limited or when you really don’t wish to be seen on video, meaning it would be great to be able to answer a video facetime request to be voice only.

    Also, I wish Apple had introduced multi-people video, and voice calls. Facetime has become the norm and I often wish I could facetime with 3 or 4 people at the same time.

  4. If this allows you to connect to any phone anywhere via FT then great. If not then its no different then what we have now. Other then maybe rather then having to start video and push it to the background to hide video you can directly answer audio only. BUt if its true VOIP then TOTALLY AWESOME. I mean its not like Vonage and others do not have an app for VOIP for the iphone but they cost money. This would be free.
    Hey maybe someone in the jailbreak world will make FT audio to any phone if it doesnt.
    I love my JB iPhone 4.

  5. This will be a nice feature if you happen to be somewhere with your iPod touch or iPad and want to place a call that is NOT a video chat. I know other apps will do this – but some cost $ and others are hard to use. Also – in those places where cell service is bad and wifi is good – a great option.

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