Apple is adding the ability to FaceTime more people onto a video call, allowing up to 32 people to be on the call — and tapping an increasing interest in group video calling stemming from apps like Houseparty
As far as features go, this was a pretty natural addition to the FaceTime App. Houseparty exposed a lot of interest in this area, allowing multiple friends to spin up a video chat. But it’s also a technically strenuous proposition running multiple livestreams, and Apple does seem uniquely positioned to absorb the technical overhead (and costs) of running multiple FaceTime streams all at once. Houseparty allows up to 8 people streaming in a video call at once, though the last significant update we might have heard from Houseparty was some tweaks to notifications in January last year. Houseparty said it had 1 million users in November 2016.
The app spreads out each stream as a series of tiles that will move around based on who is engaging on the call at the time. When someone speaks, the tile automatically gets larger automatically as a way to try to highlight whoever is talking to create a more robust experience. The whole goal is to try to make it easier to video call with a lot of different people all at once in a way that still feels pretty social.
Houseparty, for example, sits at around #10 on the App Store for the social category and still a top-200 app, according to App Annie. It has a 4.4-star rating in the App Store and was last updated at the beginning of June, according to the App Store. So it’s still chugging along, though it does seem like Apple may nullify an app like Houseparty if it hasn’t locked in a huge and engaged fan base. 25 million App Store and Google Play users worldwide have already downloaded the app, according to app analysis firm SensorTower.
The next version of iOS tends to come out around the time of the next Apple event, which usually happens around September. Apple announced a stream of updates to iOS in its next version, iOS 12, including FaceTime group chats.