FaceTime calls have always been great for catching up with friends and family. But that's not all they're good for. They are also powerful tools for collaboration.

Collaborating on a FaceTime call can enhance productivity and bring a fun, interactive element to your discussions. Whether you're working on a project, planning an event, or just need to brainstorm ideas, FaceTime offers a convenient way to connect with others without the need for any other meeting apps.

While originally supposed to arrive in iOS 16, along with collaboration in Messages, it only made its way to the Apple ecosystem with iOS 17, iPadOS 17, and macOS Sonoma.

Unlike collaboration in Messages, collaboration in FaceTime calls is rather simple, with not many features to accompany it because there's only one objective: to see the changes that other people are making in real time.

Collaborating in FaceTime Calls

To start a collaboration in FaceTime, follow these steps:

  1. Start a FaceTime call with people you want to collaborate with. They should be on a device that supports it, i.e., iOS 17, iPadOS 17, and macOS Sonoma; otherwise, they won't be privy to anything that's going on.
  2. Then, tap on the 'Share' option from the toolbar at the top.
  3. From the options that appear at the bottom, select the app you want to collaborate in under the 'Collaborate Together' section. You can collaborate in apps like Safari, Reminders, Notes, Files, Freeform, and Pages. For this guide, we'll be using the 'Notes' app as an example.
  1. As soon as you tap the app, in this case, Notes, it will open. Next, you need to select the note that you want to collaborate on, i.e., open it.
  2. You might get a banner on the screen asking if you want to collaborate on that note. Tap 'Collaborate' to proceed. However, it only stays for a second in cases when it does appear.
  1. If it goes away before you can tap it, no worries. Tap on the 'Share' button in the top-left corner of the screen.
  2. Select 'Collaborate' from the drop-down menu if it says 'Send a Copy'. You can also change permissions for the document by tapping the 'Only invited people can edit' link.
  1. Then, select 'FaceTime' or 'Messages' to share the invitation with the other person. Even if you send the initiation using FaceTime, an iMessage invitation is still sent, so it's all the same, no matter which you choose. For this guide, we're choosing FaceTime as the medium only.
  2. Tap 'Collaborate' on the confirmation pop-up.
  1. When you send a FaceTime invitation, other people on the call will get a notification on their call screen. They need to tap 'Open' to go to the app.
  2. Then, they should tap 'Open' from the confirmation pop-up again.
  1. The note will open on their devices. You can see the editing of the note in real time with cursors showing each person's photo/ initials as they are making the edits.
  2. You can tap on it to view their full name if there's any confusion.

Managing the Collaborated Document

There are also options to manage the collaborated document.

  1. Tap on the 'Collaboration' icon from the options at the top.
  2. From the menu that appears, you can view the latest updates and current participants, choose to show/ hide the participant cursors and view all activity and highlights.
  1. For more options, tap on 'Manage Shared Note'.
  2. Here, you can see the individuals the document is being shared with and manage their access or share it with more people. To manage only one person's access, tap on their name.
  1. On the next screen, you can change whether the person can edit or only view the document, add other people, or even remove them from the collaboration altogether.
  2. You can also enable the toggles to Highlight all changes in the document permanently or hide the alerts. These alerts appear in the iMessage chat when someone makes any changes and not the FaceTime call screen.
  1. To change the access for the entire document, tap 'Share Options'.
  2. Here, you can manage who can access the document, whether they can make changes to it or only view it, and who can add more people to the collaboration.
  1. To stop sharing the document completely, tap the 'Stop Sharing' button.
  2. Then, tap 'Stop Sharing' from the confirmation pop-up.
  1. You don't have to stop sharing access to the document if you want to collaborate on it in the future, though. You can simply end the FaceTime call, and the collaboration will still be available in the Messages app. You can hop into it right away in future FaceTime calls.

FaceTime calls provide a simple yet effective way to collaborate with others in real time. Being able to see edits happen live and work together across devices makes it easier to work on shared documents and projects or even plan vacations. While the features are basic, collaboration over FaceTime gets the job done by allowing visual communication, which can aid greater understanding compared to just sharing screens.