How to Master Apple Vision Pro Facetime

The Complete Guide to Apple Vision Pro Facetime

How to Master Apple Vision Pro Facetime
Virtual RealityVRInsights

Published: May 15, 2024

Rebekah Carter

Rebekah Carter

Apple Vision Pro Facetime is one of the first features most people experimented with when they finally received their spatial computing headset. While initially, the number of apps available on the Vision Pro was limited, Apple did ensure users could dive straight into an immersive experience with updated versions of the popular features you’d usually find on your iPhone.

Apple Vision Pro Facetime is just one example. The feature was even highlighted at WWDC 2023, when Apple gave us our initial sneak peek into its new headset.

Notably, the Facetime experience on the Apple Vision Pro is very different from what you’d get on an Apple smartphone. For starters, it doesn’t actually show people your face but instead uses a custom virtual “Persona.” This is the same feature you’ll use when you’re accessing the Vision Pro for collaboration via apps like Zoom, too.

So, how does it work? How do you conduct a Facetime call, and how do you make sure your Persona as accurate as possible? Here’s everything you need to know.

Can You Facetime with the Apple Vision Pro? The Basics

First, you can use Facetime with the Apple Vision Pro, but it’s not the standard experience. You’re not streaming an image of your face to a contact through a forward-facing camera. Instead, you create a virtual “Persona” that participates in the call on your behalf.

Although Apple is working on creating highly realistic avatars for Vision Pro users, the Persona avatar system has faced some backlash since the device’s release. The technology is still in its “Beta” stage, and many people feel the avatars look creepy, unusual, or just uncanny.

Still, there’s room for Apple to optimize this experience and use it to differentiate itself from other XR vendors. Currently, the device uses an advanced encoder-decoder neural network trained on thousands of scans of individuals. If Apple adds to this technology, the avatars may become more realistic thanks to future software updates.

However, I think the experience will never be precisely the same as an actual Facetime video call. One of the great things about video conferencing is the ability to replicate genuine face-to-face interactions. You’re not getting the same experience when you interact with an avatar.

Still, it might be an excellent alternative to keeping a camera pointed at your face when talking, sharing screens, and interacting with content.

How to Use Apple Vision Pro Facetime: Persona Creation

The first step in using Apple Vision Pro Facetime is creating your digital avatar, or “Persona.” This means tapping into Apple’s VisionOS software to generate a virtual version of yourself.

The good news is that creating a persona is pretty simple. The bad news is I had to redesign my Persona multiple times to end up with something I felt (mostly) happy with.

You’ll be prompted to create a Persona when setting up your Vision Pro for the first time. So, if your device is brand new, just follow the instructions. If you’re already using the Pro, and you’ve skipped that stage, press the digital crown on the top of the headset to load the dashboard, then direct your eyes to “Settings” and pinch your fingers.

Scroll to “Persona,” then select “Get Started.” From there, you’ll be asked to refine your hand setup, which means holding your hands out in front of you. You’ll also be shown a handy video about the Persona setup process with some tips; I recommend watching it.

Next, you’ll need to remove the Vision Pro headset so the cameras can capture your face. To capture your appearance, hold the Vision Pro out in front of your face at eye level, with the front display facing towards you. A circle will show you if your face is “in the frame.”

The same Eyesight display will give you visual cues as the device reads spoken instructions. You’ll need to look slowly left, right, up, and down to give the device a clear view of your face. You’ll also be asked to smile with your mouth open and closed, close your eyes, and raise your eyebrows.

When the capture is finished (the Vision Pro will let you know), put the headset back on.

Editing and Optimizing your Vision Pro Persona

Apple shares a few handy tips on its Support page to help boost your chances of getting an accurate performance the first time around. For instance, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re in a space with plenty of natural, even lighting. Ensure nothing is covering your face, including your hair, and use a clean background away from nearby objects and furnishings.

When asked to perform certain facial expressions, I recommend exaggerating a little. Open your eyes wide and smile more aggressively than usual.

Once you’ve captured everything and put your headset back on, you’ll see a progress bar as the OS designs your avatar. Your Persona will appear in front of you, and you can choose whether to add eyewear, adjust the temperature and brightness, or change the lighting.

If you’re unhappy with how you look (which is pretty standard), you can hit “Recapture” and start again. If you’re comfortable, just hit “Save”.

Using Apple Vision Pro Facetime

Once you’ve got your Persona, you can start using FaceTime. If you already have your “Messages” open, due to the integration with your smartphone, you can just “tap” the Facetime button in the top right corner. Otherwise, the best way to launch a call is from the “People” tab.

  • Press the digital crown on your headset to launch “Home View”, and look at the “People” tab on the right. Pinch to select this option.
  • Tap “+” when it appears on the screen in front of you, followed by “New Facetime.” Here, you can enter contact details or select a contact from your “People” list. Alternatively, you can choose “Create Link” to create a URL to share with a contact.
  • Tap “Facetime” to make a video call using your Persona. Alternatively, tap  “Audio” if you want to have a regular voice call.

Answering an Apple Vision Pro Facetime call is pretty simple too, provided your Apple account and device are already connected. If you receive a call when using the Vision Pro, a green icon should appear at your virtual screen’s top. Tap on the icon and tap “Join” to enter the call.

You can also tap “Join” underneath your contact’s name in “People View”. Every person on your call should appear in a separate window, and you can move those windows around as you chat.

Accessing the Features of Apple Vision Pro Facetime

Aside from the difference between actually “video calling” someone and using a Persona, using Facetime on the Vision Pro is pretty similar to using it on a smartphone. You can answer and dismiss calls at will, and you can change your settings. The Settings allow you to adjust ringtones, enable and disable call notifications, and even switch your Persona off.

Here’s how you can use some of the features that I think will be most beneficial to companies leveraging Apple Vision Pro FaceTime:

Using Other Apps and Siri

One of my favorite things about the Apple Vision Pro, is how easily you can use it to multitask. During a Facetime call, you can continue working on other apps, browsing the web with Safari, and even communicating with Siri. Obviously, if you ask Siri something during a call, your contacts will hear you, but they won’t hear the response.

Sharing your View or a Window

If you want contacts in an Apple Vision Pro Facetime call to see what you’re doing, you can share your view with them, or a single window. To do this, access the control center by swiping from the top right corner of the screen, or using the Siri voice command (Siri, launch control center)

When you’re in the Control Center, find the “Mirror my View” button, and tap it to share your entire screen. People on the call will see your entire view here, including your physical environment and surroundings. If you don’t want them to see what’s going on around you, you can use Environments on the Apple Vision Pro instead.

If you want to share a window from your Vision pro view, tap “Not Shared” above the window, then select “Share my entire window”.

Collaborating on the Vision Pro

During a call, you can add more people to a conversation by tapping the name, number, or email of the person you want to contact in the “People” tab and selecting “Invite.” You can also share your screen and send messages while you talk.

To do this, tap the number, name, or email of the group or person you’re speaking with at the bottom of the FaceTime window, then tap on “Info” and “Message.” I recommend using a connected wireless keyboard for longer messages.

Facetime on the Apple Vision Pro

The Apple Vision Pro Facetime app isn’t perfect. No matter how often you recreate and edit your Persona there’s a good chance you’ll end up with an avatar that’s not perfectly representative of your face. Plus, interacting with a digital avatar definitely isn’t the same as engaging in a video call.

Still, if you’re looking for a quick and convenient way to collaborate with the Vision Pro, Facetime could be a good option. It’s easy to use, relatively intuitive, and even allows you to share screens with contacts in real time. If you’re looking for a more immersive experience, you can consider using an app like Microsoft Teams or Zoom with the Vision Pro instead.

However, remember, with all of these apps, you’ll still be using your Persona to represent yourself, so be prepared for a few comments about how “weird” your avatar looks.

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