FaceTime is video calling software developed by Apple that runs on Mac OS X machines (version 10.6.6 or higher) and iOS devices -- including the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch -- that have a forward-facing camera.
The application debuted in 2010 with the release of the iPhone 4. Support for the iPod touch followed, and FaceTime is now included for free in Mac OS X Lion.
FaceTime, like Apple's iChat, enables both audio fact-to-face communication. Its sound and video quality have made FaceTime one of the most popular communications methods among persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Setting Up & Using FaceTime on the Mac
To FaceTime, you need an Apple ID and an email address.
To start a video chat, find the person's entry on your email contacts list. The program integrates with Address Book.
To call a contact's iPhone, click their phone number. Click their email address to call their iPad, iPod touch, or Mac. FaceTime is integrated with your Address Book so you can initiate chats easily.
An invitation is sent out, which, if accepted, automatically initiates a video call.
Once a call begins, the window frame and controls fade away. You can view the person you're calling in full screen or picture-in-picture mode, in which your image appears as well.
When someone calls you, even if FaceTime isn't running, the ring goes through every Apple device you own.
If friends call from a device that uses a rear camera, or if they rotate their display between portrait and landscape view, FaceTime for Mac automatically adjusts the view.
If you don't want to receive calls, just turn FaceTime off in Preferences.
High-Definition Video Chat
Newer Macs, including the iMac and MacBook Pro, have built-in high-definition (HD) cameras that support 720p video calls.
The "720p" refers to an HDTV signal with 720 horizontal lines and an Aspect Ratio (AR) of 16:9. This standard gives FaceTime calls the highest possible clarity.
In terms of assistive technology, FaceTime, like Apple's iChat provides resolution that is fast and clear enough for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing to use sign language or lip-read.