Review date: Sept. 8, 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).
Can it snoop on me?
What can be used to sign up?
FaceTime requires email or phone number by choice of a user.
What data does the company collect?
Metadata about who invited you on a call.
How does the company use this data?
How can you control your data?
What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?
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?
User-friendly privacy information?
Simplified privacy information available
Links to privacy information
Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards?
End-to-end encryption by default. The app uses AES-256 encryption, which is an industry standard.
FaceTime requires Apple ID password when logging in for the first time
Apple regularly updates the service
Apple has a bug bounty program
A security bug in Apple’s FaceTime lets people snoop on othersMIT Technology Review
Apple rolls out fix for FaceTime eavesdropping bugCNN
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 nowCNET
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