Facetime and Skype

Staying in touch with people has never been easier. All you need is access to the internet and either a smartphone, computer, tablet or laptop. 

What is FaceTime and what is SkypeTM?

FaceTime and Skype are two pieces of software – there are many, many others – and both help you connect, face-to-face, with people in other places via a video call. They’re very easy to use.

What do I need so that I can use them?

You’ll need two things: a device that can run the piece of software and a good internet connection. Many Apple devices come pre-loaded with FaceTime software (but FaceTime doesn’t work on Microsoft Windows devices).

Skype is available in two forms – there’s a free, basic package and a paid-for subscription service with enhanced features. The device you choose needs two things: microphone so that the other person can hear you and a webcam so that you can talk to them face-to-face.

Why use FaceTime and Skype, why not something else?

FaceTime and Skype are very widely available, and in general, it’s easy to connect to other people using the same pieces of software. There are many others - some of which are subscription-based - so make sure that you understand what you’re signing up for, if you do sign up to a package.

And broadband – is that important?

Yes. For video calls, you’ll need a strong internet connection – preferably 1MB or more.

How much does it cost to make a video call?

It depends on the device you’re using, the piece of software you’ve chosen, and the ‘carrier’ that’s giving you the connection. So, for example, a video call going from a smartphone to a smartphone may be more expensive than a simple connection from a home laptop.

Are video call packages easy to install?

FaceTime is pre-installed, Skype – and its competitors – are very easy to set up and use.

What else should I think about?

  • When you’d like to make a video call, the person you’re calling has to be using the same (or similar) software to you. You can’t ‘Skype’ someone if they don’t have Skype installed.
  • It’s a good idea to test your connection before you start a call and make sure you’re sitting comfortably in front of the device that’s recording you.
  • FaceTime and Skype have options so that you can see what you look like, before the other person on the video call ‘dials in’.
  • There’s no need to shout or speak differently, but it’s useful to know that your camera may struggle with rapid movements – so just sit back and relax when you’re on the call.
  • Finally, it’s also worth knowing that the subscription Skype service lets you call mobiles and landlines worldwide at quite low rates.