The OS X 10.9.2 beta first distributed to developers this afternoon includes Apple’s FaceTime audio, a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) feature that was originally introduced to the iPhone with iOS 7. With FaceTime audio on both iOS and OS X, Apple users will be able to seamlessly call one another from any device.

FaceTime audio is designed to allow users to initiate voice-only calls with other FaceTime users without turning on the accompanying video feed. Currently, Macs running Mavericks only have access to the standard FaceTime app, which bundles both video and audio.

Users who are interested in voice-only communications on Macs have to resort to using third-party apps like Skype or switching to Messages, both of which allow for video chats and voice-only chats.

According to 9to5Mac, the FaceTime audio feature is “integrated deeply” into both the Messages and FaceTime apps, making voice communication between Apple users on any device easier than ever. With Messages, FaceTime, and FaceTime audio on iOS and OS X, Apple will have a complete communication system in place.

With a simple way to answer telephone calls and chat requests from all devices, those in Apple’s ecosystem will have little reason to resort to alternative VoIP apps when communicating with other Apple users. FaceTime audio is also a high-quality VoIP choice, as it uses the AAC-ELD codec for Full-HD Voice. AAC-ELD is designed to provide CD-like audio quality for voice calls, delivering high speech and audio quality at a low coding delay.

It is unknown when OS X 10.9.2 will be released to the general public, but OS X 10.9.1 was in development for just over a month before it was distributed earlier this week. While Apple has been known to remove beta features ahead of release, it is likely FaceTime audio will make it to end users as it is already available on iOS.

Related roundup: OS X Mavericks

I fail to see how this is going to be practical when Facetime is not open. Can’t use it with my wife because she has an Android phone.

Get a new wife.

Its stuff like this that gives the carriers nightmares!

And for that I will forever be grateful to Jobs for giving the power back to the people!

I love FaceTime Audio! So long Skype!

FTA is worth the cost of the Apple ecosystem by itself.

Awesome and LONG overdue.
I like it and will most likely use it from time to time. It would be nice to take a phone call on my Mac without video.
It was a bad move renaming iChat. FaceTime was never a great name and it’s even more awkward now.
I’m SO going to use this. It’s ‘free’ and better sound quality makes it even better.

I fail to see how this is going to be practical when Facetime is not open. Can’t use it with my wife because she has an Android phone.

Don’t get me wrong it is good that this is addressed but I don’t really know who would extensively use this apart from one or two friends.

FaceTime can notify you of incoming FaceTime calls even when it is not open. If you want to call someone who uses iOS when you are at your Mac, it will be easy. How often this comes up for you will depend how many of your friends use iOS / Macs. I suggest getting your wife an iPhone.

Well said. What good is a calling feature if it’s not open? I thought way back when Facetime was introduced, Apple said it would be made open.

The reality is that FaceTime / Messages are not free. It costs Apple money to run the servers and it costs money to maintain the software. Apple doesn’t have the kind of business model that allows it to provide messaging services free of charge to the entire internet. Neither does anyone else for that matter- there is no prospect of being able to monetize the idea of sending messages over the internet with all the free alternatives. As a result, they aren’t going to open it up unless they think it will increase their hardware sales.

that is gr8…
but what about conference calls?
adding this feature will send Skype to the graveyard.

Huh? Only iOS devices will have that feature. Skype runs on everything including TV’s now.

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