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Group FaceTime for iPhone, explained

Staring at one person can get boring, so spice things up with up to 32 people!

Claudia Cruz/CNET

Apple first announced Group FaceTime calling during WWDC in June. Then, on Monday, Aug. 13, Apple removed Group FaceTime calling from the iOS 12 and MacOS Mojave betas, with a promise to release the feature this fall. That means you'll have to wait a little longer to hold a 32-person Group FaceTime call. 

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Nonetheless, we can still take a look at what group calling looks like, and how it works before it was removed. 

Right now, iOS 12 is available through two beta channels (public and developer) and isn't yet finalized. It's likely some of the features such as this one will change or work differently once it's officially released later this year. We will continue to update this post to reflect changes as needed.

There are a couple of different ways to create or join a group FaceTime call, so let's take a look.

Through the FaceTime app

facetime-group-call-in-app
Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Open the FaceTime app on your iOS device, then tap on the "+" sign in the top right corner. Search for and add who you want to call, and then tap either the green Audio or Video button at the bottom.

Using the Messages app

Calling someone via FaceTime has always been possible in the Messages app, but only in private conversation threads. Now, group messaging threads will have the option to call everyone in the group conversation. But instead of automatically calling everyone, FaceTime will send a message to the group, which includes a button to join the call. Here's how it works:

facetime-group-call-lin-convo
Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET
  • In a group conversation thread, tap the section at the top of the screen with the contact names and photos.
  • A drop-down will present you with three options: Audio, FaceTime and Info. Tap FaceTime.
  • A FaceTime group call will the open on your device, with placeholder images for every person in the group chat.
facetime-message-join
Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

In the message thread itself, other participants will see a message letting them know a FaceTime call has been started, with a button to Join the call. The message also includes the number of people active in the call. If someone needs to leave the call, the button to join will remain active as long as the call is active.