Group FaceTime stops expanding image tiles in latest iOS 13.5 beta

Group FaceTime gets a lot less chaotic in latest iOS beta


Sick of those taking on Group FaceTime growing in size? iOS 13.5 beta let's you disable it.
Photo: Apple

A Group FaceTime feature some people find irritating can be disabled in the upcoming iOS version. Currently, the tile showing the face of the person speaking gets larger, pushing everyone else aside. The iOS 13.5 beta introduced Wednesday gives users the option to turn this off.

No more bouncing tiles

Apple calls this feature “Automatic Prominence,” and it’s meant to ensure that people can tell who’s talking. That person’s tile enlarges, and pushes everyone else’s aside slightly.

But on a call where lots of people are contributing, the tiles showing people’s images grow and shrink frequently. In other words, everyone’s face is bouncing around.

In iOS 13.5 beta 3, which Apple released to developers today, there’s a setting to shut this off. Go to Settings > FaceTime > Automatic Prominence and toggle off Speaking. This stops the tile of the person talking from increasing in size. This is much closer to what people are accustomed to in Zoom and other multi-person video-chat applications.

The feature also appears in iPadOS 13.5 beta 3, which was released to developers on Wednesday as well.

Group FaceTime use isn’t booming

With so many people working from home during the COVID-19 crisis, use of video conference software increased dramatically in recent weeks. Zoom went through the roof. But Apple FaceTime usage reportedly hasn’t changed at all.

It’s not that there’s reason to mistrust this software. It’s one of very few applications in this category to offer end-to-end encryption. That means that only the people on the call can access its content. No one — not even the app-makers — are able to listen in.

But Group FaceTime works only between Apple devices. Unlike Google Hangouts, Skype, Facebook Messenger, etc., There’s no Android or Windows version. That’s kept it a niche service.

FaceTime comes preinstalled on iOS and iPadOS devices. For anyone who deleted, it can be reinstalled from the App Store.