Whether you're raising kids away from family or just five minutes down the road, there are simply moments when you need to connect face-to-face—even if it's really just screen-to-screen. But for all the wondrous capabilities of FaceTime, the biggest shortcoming was that only two callers could be on the line.
Until now: Apple announced this week that the upcoming iOS 12 update will allow for group FaceTime with up to 32 friends and family members. The updates should be available on all iPhones, iPads, Macs and even Apple Watches this fall.
In addition to being able to get everyone in the family on the call, the update will include filters, Animoji and Apple's new Memoji, which is a lot like a Bitmoji that mimics your movements. Plus you can launch it simply by tapping a button within your existing group messages rather than trying to wrangle everyone through the FaceTime app.
The iOS 12 update will also include a new App Limits tool, which allows users to set their own guidelines for how much time they want to spend scrolling or swiping. As Apple's Craig Federighi told developers, "You can make decisions about how much time you'd like to spend with your device each day."
With the app, parents will also have more options in regulating their children's screen time by setting "Downtime" and other limits. This seems to be a response to an open letter from two of Apple's large shareholders earlier this year in which they urged Apple to establish some more tools for limiting children's screen time by saying, "It is both unrealistic and a poor long-term business strategy to ask parents to fight this battle alone."
Unlike some past updates from Apple, these new capabilities aren't exactly groundbreaking as there are already third-party apps that allow users to do group video calls or get notifications when they are exceeding device usage limits. But integrating it into the phone makes it all that much easier—especially when you need to connect with some, ahem, tech-challenged grandparents.