Facetime-iconOur app is the week is actually baked into iOS 7, rather than having to be downloaded through the app store.  FaceTime was the rather clunky name given to Apple’s video calling function when they launched the iPhone and iOS 4 back in 2010, three versions of iOS later and you now have the option to strip away the video aspect and just make calls using FaceTime audio.  By giving it it’s own icon on the home screen, rather than just an additional feature to the existing contacts app, Apple have positioned FaceTime audio as a competitor to Microsoft’s Skype service.

FaceTime is what’s technically known as a VOIP (Voice Over IP) service, this means that the conversation you are having is sent through the internet rather than through the phone network. As long as you have a WIFI or a 3G connection you can speak to someone using FaceTime and it won’t use any of the minutes in your contract.  It’s handy for lots of reasons, including calling people abroad, people who have very poor network signal but a WIFI connection and people who have few minutes in their contract but a high data allowance.

There’s no setup required for the app, once you’ve downloaded iOS 7, you just need to open it up and you’re ready to make audio and video calls.  It imports all of your contacts from your phone book, there’s no need to find usernames or remember awkward codes like you did with Skype or most of the other VOIP services.  You navigate the contacts list just like the standard contact list but once you tap on the person you want to speak to’s name you get the option of standard call using their phone number, text message, FaceTime video or FaceTime audio.

Just like the rest of iOS 7, it’s all very smartly designed and easy to use.  Currently calls can only be made between apple devices so you can’t quite cut down your call plan to a minimum yet, but i’m sure over time it will be made cross platform as Apple continue to try and grab a wider audience.