With everyone stuck at home, more and more people are resorting to video chat tools like FaceTime to stay connected. Apple is adding a new setting in iOS 13.5 to improve the experience on a busy Group FaceTime call…

While Zoom has become the frontrunner for business video calling, a lot of casual conversations are happening over social media apps like WhatsApp, Houseparty, and Apple’s FaceTime.

Group FaceTime was introduced in iOS 12.1 and supports end-to-end encrypted video calls with up to 32 people. The default layout of Group FaceTime lays out square tiles for each person in the Group FaceTime call, in a funky asymmetric layout.

The FaceTime app automatically enlarges the video window of the current person who is speaking. However, in a busy group call, there can be many people speaking at once and in short succession of each other. This causes the automatic focusing to constantly switch from person to person, which means the user’s avatars never stop growing and shrinking.

In iOS 13.5, Apple has added a new setting so you can disable this behavior.

To disable automatic face zooming in FaceTime:

  • Open Settings.
  • Scroll down and navigate to FaceTime settings.
  • Scroll down and find the section labeled “Automatic Prominence.”
  • Finally, disable the toggle switch for “Speaking.”

This setting only affects group calls as the other person always takes over the full screen in a standard 1-to-1 FaceTime call.

With automatic enlarging disabled, you can still manually make someone’s face in focus. Simply tap twice on their tile and the FaceTime app will bring them to the fore.

iOS 13.5 is currently in beta and also introduces the first phase of exposure notifications to aid COVID-19 contact tracing. Apple also tweaked the behavior of the lock screen to make using Face ID iPhones easier for people wearing masks.

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