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FaceTime on Apple TV with tvOS 17 is exactly three years overdue

Published Jun 5th, 2023 7:15PM EDT
With tvOS 17, FaceTime comes to Apple TV 4K for the first time, allowing users to enjoy the app on their TV for even more engaging conversations with family and friends.
Image: Apple

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Well, this is something we all could have used over lockdown.

Apple had released some great FaceTime features over the course of the pandemic, including SharePlay, which lets us watch a movie or TV show with friends through FaceTime. However, it’s always been a little weird since you had to AirPlay the content to your Apple TV and also hold your iPhone in your hand while you were on the call. It made watching entertainment with friends while apart possible, but certainly not an easy or comfortable one.

With tvOS 17, things are greatly improving in that area. The new release officially brings the FaceTime app to the Apple TV 4K, allowing users to use their iPhone and Continuity Camera to see everyone on their Apple TV while making the call from their iPhone.

Center Stage keeps everyone in the room perfectly framed on the screen, even as they move around, while new gesture-based reactions allow callers to use their hands to generate onscreen effects, such as hearts or fireworks, and add even more fun to the conversation. The introduction of Split View for Apple TV lets users enjoy watching shows or movies with their loved ones during a SharePlay session while also seeing everyone on the FaceTime call.

This is the SharePlay experience we really needed over the pandemic. Being able to sit down on your couch, watch a show, and talk with your friends through FaceTime — all through your TV screen — is the way I could really see watching shows and movies with family and friends when we are apart. I have friends that live further away now, and we used to have show or movie nights. This is a great way to bring those back!

While it’s great to see that this is possible with an Apple TV and an iPhone, it does mean you’ll be without your phone while you are using the feature. There have been rumors about an Apple TV 4K with a camera built in. The software experience has been laid out to support such a product. That’s definitely where Apple can go with it next.

Joe Wituschek Tech News Contributor

Joe Wituschek is a Tech News Contributor for BGR.

With expertise in tech that spans over 10 years, Joe covers the technology industry's breaking news, opinion pieces and reviews.