Using A Mac: FaceTime or iChat, which should I use?

Do you want to video chat with Macs, iPods and iPhones? Use FaceTime.
Do you want to instant message or video chat with a PC or a Mac? Use iChat.

One of the coolest yet often neglected features of the iPod, iPhone and Mac is video conferencing. Some people don’t have an interest in video chatting but those who use it stand by their webcams. But how do you choose the right App to video chat with your friends and family?

When you buy an iPod or iPhone, you’ll notice the FaceTime icon and top mounted camera. This allows you to chat with anyone running FaceTime on an iOS device or a Mac. While the iPod and iPhone come with FaceTime preinstalled, you’ll have to download the public Beta to use it on the Mac. FaceTime for iOS and the Mac allow you to video chat between iOS devices and a Mac, an iOS device to another and Mac to Mac.

So why use iChat? The one thing FaceTime doesn’t do is instant messaging which was the reason for iChat’s inception. FaceTime only handles video calling between iOS and OS X but iChat can connect to PC users which opens up another platform you can connect to. However, it’s likely Apple will merge the two Apps – FaceTime and iChat – when OS X Lion is released this summer.


  1. DJR says

    FaceTime is now out of beta and is a 99-cent download in the new App Store. Also, I haven’t seen a FaceTime icon on my iPhone. It’s just part of the phone app. Or am I missing something?

    • says

      Hi DJR,

      FaceTime is integrated within the Phone App whereas the iPod Touch has a standalone App due to its lack of calling features and need for a phone App. If you want to FaceTime with someone using an iPhone 4 you’ll have to add their Apple ID ([email protected]) or the email address they registered for FaceTime to their contact card. You will now see a FaceTime button allowing you to video chat with that person.

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