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Ship or Slip: Apple Delays Group FaceTime until “Later This Fall”

Developer Guilherme Rambo has noticed that Apple has delayed Group FaceTime until “later this fall.” At WWDC, Apple promoted the feature as part of macOS 10.14 Mojave and iOS 12, saying that FaceTime conversations would be able to support up to 32 participants. Frankly, we’re not surprised. In testing of the current betas with TidBITS and Take Control authors, Group FaceTime was nowhere near ready for primetime.

Release notes announcing Group FaceTime's delay

It is of course better to avoid shipping a half-baked feature, but Apple seems to be having more trouble meeting its ship dates in the last few years. Four recent examples:

  • HomePod: At its Worldwide Developers Conference in June 2017, Apple said the HomePod smart speaker would ship in December 2017. It slipped until February 2018, missing the holiday shopping season.
  • AirPlay 2: Also at that WWDC, Apple promoted the wireless audio technology AirPlay 2 as a major feature of macOS 10.13 High Sierra and iOS 11. Those operating systems shipped in September 2017 without AirPlay 2, which didn’t see the light of day until iOS 11.4 in May 2018 and macOS 10.13.6 in July 2018.
  • Messages in iCloud: Once again at that WWDC, Apple announced Messages in iCloud, which stores conversations in iCloud rather than on individual devices. As with AirPlay 2, Messages in iCloud didn’t appear until late May 2018 in iOS 11.4 and macOS 10.13.5.
  • AirPower: At its iPhone unveiling in September 2017, Apple announced the AirPower wireless charging mat, which will use the Qi wireless charging standard to juice up the iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, Apple Watch Series 3, and AirPods in a special charging case. It still hasn’t shipped.

At some point, we’re going to have to take Apple’s pronouncements about new features with the proverbial grain of salt. We’ll see if Group FaceTime actually ships “later this fall” or slips into a 2019 release.

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Comments About Ship or Slip: Apple Delays Group FaceTime until “Later This Fall”

Notable Replies

  1. “At some point, we’re going to have to take Apple’s pronouncements about new features with the proverbial grain of salt. We’ll see if Group FaceTime actually ships “later this fall” or slips into a 2019 release.”

    My thoughts exactly.

    I might add I am still also waiting for Visual Voicemail, 11 years after launch…

  2. Mark, I get VV on my iPhone 10 - it’s OK but does have problems changing some speech to text.

  3. “At some point, we’re going to have to take Apple’s pronouncements about new features with the proverbial grain of salt.”

    In my experience, it has always been wise to have a salt cellar handy when it comes to such Apple pronouncements. However, I am one of those users who is willing to wait on features when Apple discovers it needs more time to deliver robust new features.

    In the case of multiuser FaceTime, I suspect the distance between a usable prototype running on new equipment over a reliable high speed network and a release version that would have to run acceptably on a wider range of devices with varying quirks over a farrago of networks of varying quality and dependability was larger than Apple may have hoped. The delay does not surprise me.

  4. If you search Youtube you will fInd a video of Steve Jobs demonstrating a 4 way video conference using iChat on a Mac. It was launched in 2005!

  5. This is pretty much a non issue to me. A beta feature isn’t released in an update that was to be about quality. Meh.

    It’s a fair point that Apple seems to be slipping on many dates. Human behavioral psychology makes this more likely. The trend is disappointing indeed but I for one am happy if Apple stops releasing things that barely work. Ahem, Apple Watch S0…

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