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Once exclusively the province of iOS users, FaceTime for Mac now lets you reach out and touch someone from your computer—or see how they look the morning after the big party. We’ll skip the usual buildup—yes, FaceTime for Mac is great for making high-quality video calls to friends and family on iOS devices and other Macs over Wi-Fi. But as futuristic as that killer feature is, FaceTime’s contact management needs to catch up with the 20th century.
FaceTime’s slick iOS-style interface is easy to use, but lacks some basic contact features.
First things first: if you’re using a MacBook Pro introduced this February, you already have FaceTime in your Applications folder. Everyone else will have to drop a buck in Apple’s pocket and download it from the App Store. Launch it, then sign in with your Apple ID or create a new one (that email address will be used to receive calls on your Mac, but you can add others). FaceTime automatically imports Address Book groups and contacts, and you can create, delete, or edit them in FaceTime. Unfortunately, you’re stuck viewing contacts in alphabetical order by first name, and must manually call up a search field to find one quickly. It feels a bit beta, and we’re surprised that Apple would release something so clunky, given its emphasis on integration and “it just works” philosophy.
When you make a call, the sidebar showing contacts, favorites, and recent calls slides away to leave you with a resizable video window and controls to mute, end, or take your call full screen. Otherwise, the Mac FaceTime experience is just what you’d expect from the iOS version. You can even turn the picture-in-picture preview of yourself horizontally to give callers a wide view of whatever you happen to be doing. Best of all, you don’t need to leave FaceTime running to be alerted to calls, and you can turn off incoming calls in the app’s preferences or Dock icon.
The bottom line. FaceTime video calling has arrived on the Mac. It works, but clunky contacts integration leaves us thinking FaceTime feels a little bit behind the times.
apple.com, Available on the Mac App Store
Mac OS 10.6.6 or later; internet connection; built-in camera, FireWire camera, or USB camera supporting UVC and DV/HDV spec
Easy to use. Simple, iOS-style interface.
Weak contacts integration.