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FaceTime Links show that Apple has no intention of treating Android users equally

Apple Logo Facepalm Glare
Apple Logo Facepalm Glare (Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

Ah, FaceTime. Just as the name iPad is often used in place of a tablet, FaceTime has become synonymous with video calling someone. That changed a bit in 2020 when people began using Zoom for their daily needs and, it seems, Apple has noticed the shift. Zoom isn't just used for meetings, though; I've used it personally when video calling long-distance family or friends, and certainly an unknowable number of times during the pandemic for just about every event you could think of.

One of Zoom's biggest advantages over FaceTime is its ability to use it on every single platform in existence. Basically, if your platform of choice can connect to the Internet, you can use Zoom. But Apple's latest attempt at aping its competition is about as half-hearted as it gets. The big news, of course, is that FaceTime is coming to Android! Queue celebration until you realize just how limited FaceTime on Android — or any other non-Apple platform, for that matter — will be.

FaceTime

Source: Rene Ritchie / iMore (Image credit: Source: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

Apple wants Android users to have an inferior FaceTime experience.

That's because there won't be a native Android app for FaceTime the way there is with Google Duo, Zoom, WebEx, or countless other video chat services. Based on the information we know, you'll need an iOS 15-powered device just to start a FaceTime call, which you'll then be able to create a link to and share out to others.

While that will finally include Android users within FaceTime chats — a missing service that's been problematic for years — it ultimately does not open the service up to non-Apple users in the way Apple Music, Apple TV, or several other Apple-branded services now do.

iOS 14 and Android 11

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

Recently, we delved into the world of users switching from iOS to Android; a phenomenon that appears to be happening at a record pace with little mention of it from Apple itself. For years, Apple has operated under the guise of providing a more secure, private environment for its users by offering a curated app store that it then takes a cut from. The recent Epic vs. Apple trial brought this much to light:

"Epic wants us to be Android, but we don't want to be."Karen Dunn, lawyer for Apple

It's interesting, then, that Apple has been slowly turning into a services company that has begun allowing more and more users to access its coveted properties without owning its devices. We've seen the veil slowly lifted over the years, from the ability to use Apple Music and Apple TV on non-Apple devices to the ability to finally watch Apple's annual WWDC conference (officially) on non-Apple devices. So why the half-baked effort on FaceTime for Android?

iMessage

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

To me, it feels like Apple isn't yet ready to erase the stigmas it worked to create with green bubbles. By keeping its core services still largely locked to an iPhone — or, at least, the very best version of its services locked to its hardware — it can still operate under the guise of holding the crown of the very best smartphone experience. In fact, I can very much see this acting as a new form of green bubbles. Before, Apple users had to download Google Duo, Zoom, or whatever their Android-toting family and friends used.

FaceTime Links are the new green bubbles.

Now that they don't have to, it's easier than ever to stubbornly insist on using the Apple software built into their Apple phone to get the job done. You'll just have to send a link to your Android friends and wait ages for them to finally join the call because, this way, even the best Android phones will be "slow." I can see it now: ew, links. I don't send those things out.

It's an interesting dichotomy between Apple's move to being a services-based company and the fact that it wants users to buy into the broader ecosystem of its products — not just iPhone ownership. Apple is continuing to build better and better ways of making its products talk to and work with each other instead of worrying about letting more companies and products into the fold.

Apple Music Replay

Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central)

Giving Android users a glimpse into the world of Apple services and products — but only by going through extra steps — continues to stigmatize Android usage among Apple owners. Further, it creates an environment where peer pressure brings more users into the Apple fold.

It's genius, really.

Nicholas Sutrich
Nicholas Sutrich
Nick started with DOS and NES and uses those fond memories of floppy disks and cartridges to fuel his opinions on modern tech. Whether it's VR, smart home gadgets, or something else that beeps and boops, he's been writing about it since 2011. Reach him on Twitter or Instagram @Gwanatu
24 Comments
  • Did someone expect something different from Apple, other than create a way to motivate users to run over to their platform? It is fair game, as long as Google allows it.
  • imessage is half-baked, also-ran not zoom killer
  • It's not halfbaked.
  • It's not cross platform. It's half baked by design. Imagine if Apple had invented Email and SMS. The world would really be a better place wouldn't it.
  • It was never designed to be cross platformed. It was designed by Apple for Apple. So it's only half baked when using software on another platform that wasn't intended for. In that case, if you want the full baked version, get an IPhone.
  • You're arguing the definition of half baked, but you agree with the point itself. Semantics.
  • No, I was just saying that iMessage wasn't halfbaked on the iOS side, just the android side. So yeah, 😂
    I'm sure it will stay halfbaked forever on Android.
  • Was anyone u,nder the illusion that their intentions were otherwise?
  • Zoom is great if you want to post a link publicly but otherwise: 1. Most of your friends are probably on Facebook Messenger. If they're not..
    2. They'll probably be on WhatsApp. If they're not...
    3. They'll probably have a Google account so use Google Meet (or Google Duo). None have the Zoom 40 minute limit on group video calls and they're also also cross platform (WhatsApp has Chrome OS and Windows tablet support. iPad is coming). There are better platforms that people are already using. You don't even need a Google account to join a Google Meet group video call. If you want the similar "Share a link" Zoom approach Google Meet does this, so does Facebook Messenger.
  • Yeah a friend who's never owned an iPhone even says FaceTime :/ Apple doesn't have the best-in-class video calling service like they do best-in-class Messaging platform 🤔. There's nothing special about facetime Google, Facebook, Microsoft aren't also doing. Duo's even integrated into Android. The only reason WhatsApp isn't a verb meaning "to video call" is because for most of the world it was already a verb to mean "to message".
  • So Apple has built a half baked Facetime Web App. Is this what this means? I expect this won't be a thing outside of North America. iPhone users are perfectly happy using Zoom, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, whatever in the rest of the world. "continues to stigmatize Android usage among Apple owners" Not a thing in 198 of the 200+ countries globally 😉. I didn't even know it was a thing until I started reading US tech websites. "FaceTime Links are the new green bubbles" Urgh. Just emigrate already 😂
  • Everyone I know with an apple device has already moved on from Facetime. This past year + showed them all that if they truly want to communicate with everyone they need to do so on something more ubiquitous or they'll just be left out of the conversation. My kids stopped trying to communicate with friends by asking ”what kind of phone do you have?" Now it's "do you use one of these services?" And they can use any of those services on any device. All Apple is doing is giving everyone a lesser alternative to what they already have. People will move on to whatever is easiest.
  • Apple treating Android users like second class citizens is nothing new and this latest half baked attempt is deliberate, I wish I could dump iPhone for good but because I made a promise to my sister, I have to stick to it, thankfully Android is my daily driver and not my iPhone.
  • Do you need a tissue? Your posts are all the same except the phone model changes daily
  • I don't always say the same thing, you assume that because I mention that I'm bored with my iPhone. I'm being critical of Apple and yeah I lament the fact that I'm still using an iPhone but I'll put up with it because I'm getting a Pixel as my daily driver and sticking with it because the Pixel is where I found the perfect Android phone for me.
  • So now we’re back to Pixel? I thought Samsung was best or was that last week? A person could get dizzy watching you flip around.
  • Samsung is great but not best for me, I'm not a fan of One UI and was kidding myself to think I'd be happy with Samsung's take on Android with the their ugly icons with rounded corners and how everything just isn't as optimised as a Pixel and miss the day 1 updates of a Pixel who's UI has always been my favourite as well as the Pixel always being my favourite software experience, I was trying to fit in with all of you, in trying to like Samsung as much as you guys but I have a lot more respect for Samsung now than I did before I had my S20 FE, but the Pixel is MY Android, always has been always will be.
  • SMDH, your phone fetish is like the weather. Changes daily.
  • Why would Apple ever treat Android users as first class citizens? Why are you expecting any different treatment? Did anyone here care when Google disallowed YouTube apps for Windows Phone or Windows, forcing them to use a web browser? That’s no different than what Apple is doing here. It’s not for you. It’s for their users. iOS users no longer need to download and install anything else, as long as they can send anyone a link that will work in the browser on any other device. It’s actually a *****ng brilliant strategy, and all you plebs seem to miss that because you’re busy rehashing 2011’s arguments and Apple insults. This is NOT good for Zoom, Meet, Duo, Skype, FaceTime, or WhatsApp. It’s amazing for Apple users, though. They can uninstall all of those apps and still be able to video chat with any and everyone using only the native solution on their Apple devices. FaceTime just became the iMessage of Video Calling.
  • Why aren't more people using Google duo?
  • Google duo is the best in my opinion. Simple, and it just works! (It almost feel like apple made it...)
  • I like Duo, it's not restrictive like FaceTime is in making the person I'm video calling, full screen which is annoying as I'm visually impaired, WhatsApp gives this option as well.
  • It’s late. Most people already have Facebook, WhatsApp, or Skype. What incentive is there to drop any of those for Duo, and why bother installing another app and signing up and another service if you aren’t going to use it. Google needed Duo in 2012, when they killed off Google Talk and started the running string of messaging service failures… In short, it doesn’t matter how good something is, if using it is blatantly impractical. This is precisely why Apple is going where they’re going.
  • I will never use Duo or Skype again after this launches. Lol. Links via SMS, even to Android users.