How To: This Secret FaceTime Trick Lets You Zoom with Your iPhone's Camera

This Secret FaceTime Trick Lets You Zoom with Your iPhone's Camera

With Zoom and Google Meet, you can zoom in using your rear camera on a video call to focus on something far away or to get a closeup view. But in Messenger, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Skype, Instagram, and most other video chat apps, zoom functionality is disabled. And it may appear to be blocked in FaceTime too, but that's not the case — the feature is just hiding in plain sight.

You actually might be quite surprised to learn about FaceTime's secret camera zoom trick. I'm shocked, and I've been FaceTiming for an entire decade. Why Apple doesn't advertise the zooming option is a mystery to me, but it could have something to do with the fact that it's a bit of a buggy mess.

Even when you know how to zoom in FaceTime, it might not work for you. While there is a troubleshooting tip we've discovered, the feature itself is undeniably "in-the-works." You can't even blame the feature's failure on it being in beta. We found the feature lurking in iOS 13.5.5 beta 1 and 13.6 beta 2, but we've also successfully tested it out on iPhones running public builds such as iOS 13.0, 13.2, and 13.5.1.

Since Apple doesn't acknowledge the feature publicly, there's no telling how long it's been a thing, but in our testing, it doesn't appear on any version before iOS 13.0.

The Trick to FaceTime Zooming

While engaged in a FaceTime call, switch to the rear camera by tapping the "flip" button. Now, double-tap your video feed to expand it. Your feed will become larger, hiding other video feeds from view. From here, just pinch out to zoom the feed like you would in the Camera app. If the trick is working correctly, you should see your video zoom in. Of course, pinching in reverse (pinching in) zooms back out.

What to Do if FaceTime Zooming Isn't Working

If the pinch out/in trick doesn't work for you, that's to be expected. The most consistent fix we've found is to simply tap the "effects" button. You don't even need to select an effect — just try zooming again. If all goes well, the trick should be up and running, as you can see in the GIF below.

You might also have more luck with the feature in smaller FaceTime calls. One-on-one calls seem to be the most consistent while adding more participants seems to throw things off. In fact, we had a difficult time getting it to work at all in a three-way call. Just keep your expectations in check when trying the feature out for yourself, and let us know how it works for you.

Just updated your iPhone? You'll find new features for Podcasts, News, Books, and TV, as well as important security improvements and fresh wallpapers. Find out what's new and changed on your iPhone with the iOS 17.5 update.

Cover photo and GIFs by Jake Peterson/Gadget Hacks

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