FaceTime

FaceTime

Apple
Wi-Fi

Review date: Sept. 8, 2021

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Mozilla says

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People voted: Not creepy

If you've ever video chatted iPhone-to-iPhone, chances are you used FaceTime. Apple's video call app comes installed on its devices by default, meaning FaceTime options get prime placement. FaceTime is super simple, making it easy to access features like mute and flip camera. The biggest downside? The FaceTime club is an exclusive one — if you don't have an Apple device, you can't join. However, that will change soon when the iOS 15 release happens in Fall, 2021. That Apple software update will allow Android and Windows users to open a Facetime link in a browser. Maybe not the best video call experience, but, you know, Apple likes to keep things in their own ecosystem.

What could happen if something goes wrong?

Not too much, we think (hope!). Apple is known for having a pretty strong security and privacy track record, at least compared to many of the other Big Tech companies. FaceTime is end-to-end encrypted, which is the best case scenario for a video chat app. And Apple doesn't share your data with third-parties, which is nice. There was a pretty nasty Facetime bug found back in 2019 that let users call somebody through FaceTime and listen in on the phone’s microphone whether or not the person answered the call. Apple fixed that bug quickly. FaceTime makes a fine video call option (if all your friends own Apple products).

mobile Privacy Security A.I.

Can it snoop on me? information

Camera

Device: N/A

App: Yes

Microphone

Device: N/A

App: Yes

Tracks location

Device: N/A

App: No

What can be used to sign up?

FaceTime requires email or phone number by choice of a user.

What data does the company collect?

How does the company use this data?

Apple uses personal data to improve its services, to process your transactions, to communicate with you, for security and fraud prevention, and to comply with law. It may also use personal data for other purposes with your consent. Apple does not share personal data with third parties for their own marketing purposes.

How can you control your data?

Apple retains personal data only for so long as necessary to fulfill the purposes for which it was collected, including as described in this Privacy Policy or in their service-specific privacy notices, or as required by law. No specific data retention periods are provided. Hosts and participants all have the same level of control, from muting their own mic to switching from their phone's front-facing camera to the rear. FaceTime centers video conference calls around group chats within the iPhone's Messages app. Anyone within a specific group chat can join the group FaceTime call at any time.

What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?

Average

The bug, discovered in January 2019, allowed eavesdropping of the calls and videos. It transmitted audio to a caller despite the recipient not having accepted the call. It was triggered when the initial caller added a third person to a FaceTime call. If the person being called pressed the power button on their lock screen as a call came in, video from their phone would also be sent to the caller without the user’s knowledge. Apple has quickly fixed the bug, and disabled group calling feature before it was fixed.

Can this product be used offline?

N/A

User-friendly privacy information?

Yes

Simplified privacy information available

Links to privacy information

Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards? information

Yes

Encryption

Yes

End-to-end encryption by default. The app uses AES-256 encryption, which is an industry standard.

Strong password

Yes

FaceTime requires Apple ID password when logging in for the first time

Security updates

Yes

Apple regularly updates the service

Manages vulnerabilities

Yes

Apple has a bug bounty program

Privacy policy

Yes

User-friendly privacy policy in Q&A format.

Does the product use AI? information

Yes

FaceTime uses AI for its 'Eye contact' feature.

Is this AI untrustworthy?

Can’t Determine

What kind of decisions does the AI make about you or for you?

Is the company transparent about how the AI works?

No

Does the user have control over the AI features?

Can’t Determine

*privacy not included

Dive Deeper

  • A security bug in Apple’s FaceTime lets people snoop on others
    MIT Technology Review
  • Apple rolls out fix for FaceTime eavesdropping bug
    CNN
  • Apple unveils new privacy features, digital IDs and changes to FaceTime.
    NY Times
  • iOS 15 makes FaceTime between Android and iPhone easy. Here's how to try it now
    CNET

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