FaceTime

FaceTime

Apple $Free
Wi-Fi

Review date: 09/08/2021

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).

Privacy

Can it snoop on me?

Camera

Device: N/A

App: Yes

Microphone

Device: N/A

App: Yes

Tracks Location

Device: N/A

App: No

What is required to sign up?

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

What data does it collect?

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 for 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?

Not applicable

User friendly privacy information?

Yes

Simplified privacy information available

Links to privacy information

Security

Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards?

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.

Artificial Intelligence

Does the product use AI?

Yes

Does the AI use your personal data to make decisions about you?

Can’t Determine

Does the company allow users to see how the AI works?

No

FaceTime uses AI for its 'Eye contact' feature.

Updates

A security bug in Apple’s FaceTime lets people snoop on others
MIT Technology Review
The tech giant has now disabled the Group FaceTime capability on its video-calling service in a bid to fix the problem.
Apple rolls out fix for FaceTime eavesdropping bug
CNN
Apple has fixed the FaceTime bug that let people eavesdrop on unanswered group video calls.
Apple unveils new privacy features, digital IDs and changes to FaceTime.
NY Times
Apple said that new iPhone software scheduled for this fall, called iOS 15, would add a so-called app privacy report that tells people what data apps are collecting about them. The report will display when an app has gained access to sensitive parts of the device, such as the photo album, contacts list or microphone. Google announced a similar feature for Android devices last month.
iOS 15 makes FaceTime between Android and iPhone easy. Here's how to try it now
CNET
iOS 15 is now available to download as a public beta on your iPhone, and it lets FaceTime break free of Apple's ecosystem. Here's how Android and Windows users can hop on a video call.

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