Eye contact is a natural part of most conversations and, without it, we can feel rejected. FaceTime calls are no different, which can make catching up with close friends or family somewhat lacking in the human connection department. Apple unsurprisingly has its own solution to that problem, however, with a feature that literally fakes eye contact for you. We promise, it works better than it sounds.
The aptly named “Eye Contact,” which was rolled out with the release of iOS 14, digitally alters users' eyes to appear they’re looking directly into the camera. It’s enabled by ARKit, Apple’s framework to implement augmented reality in games and tools using a combination of motion tracking and camera scene capture.
If you have an iPhone XS or later and a more recent version of iOS, chances are you have already used the feature without realizing that it’s on. Eye Contact is on by default, so you have to manually shut it off if you have a newer phone.
To be honest, you or the other person you’re FaceTiming might not even notice or necessarily care about maintaining real eye contact during a call. So, if your eyes being replaced by augmented reality software feels somewhat creepy, here’s how to check if Eye Contact is on and how to shut it off. It’s super easy:
- Go to your iPhone’s settings.
- Either scroll down or type “FaceTime” in the search bar.
- Choose FaceTime and search for “Eye Contact.”
- From there, you can toggle the feature on or off.
Pros and cons
As magical as iOS 14 and Eye Contact are, there are some quirks you should be aware of before you dive right in.
For instance, when using Eye Contact on my iPhone 14, there was a pretty noticeable difference during a FaceTime call with my husband. Not only were my eyes looking directly into the camera, but one of my eyes appeared to be bigger and darker than the other one as if it were drawn on. Your own results may vary, but as a rule of thumb, making sure your lighting conditions and camera position are both ideal should make Eye Contact more effective.
And whether you love it or hate it, eye contact software is here to stay. Nvidia released an eye contact feature on its streaming software in January 2023 and Microsoft’s latest version of Windows features AI that makes it seem like you are always staring into the camera on a video call.