Apple’s latest iOS 17 update has introduced FaceTime Reactions, which are animated effects that pop up on your screen during a video chat. These reactions are like the ones commonly used in Messages with other iPhone users, such as hearts, fireworks and thumbs-ups. These can sometimes serve as expressive substitutes for written responses or, in the case of FaceTime, punctuate your body language with 3D animations.
However, during video calls, these animated effects are a little different. You can activate them manually or using hand gestures. For example, you can create a heart shape with your hands and little red hearts will start erupting from the middle. Or you can toss up dual metal signs to get a laser light show. These 3D animated reactions will also show up in macOS Sonoma and iPadOS 17.
If you haven’t yet explored this feature, this step-by-step guide will walk you through how to make the most of FaceTime Reactions in your calls.
How to manually trigger an effect on FaceTime and video calls
The most reliable way to make a visual reaction appear on screen during a FaceTime call is by pressing down on your picture during a call. This will force a popup menu to appear above you. You will see eight reactions to choose from.
You can select the thumbs-up or the thumbs-down icon to make a bubble with the respective symbol appear next to your face. Tap the heart and a trail of red hearts will appear on screen. To showcase your excitement, you can select the balloon icon or the confetti symbol to trigger a colorful on-screen display. Like in Messages, you can trigger a funky fireworks or laser beam show. Maybe you’re feeling down? You can make the screen turn dark and gloomy when you tap the rain icon.
With each symbol you select, the on-screen effect will last a few seconds for you and whoever is on the other side of the FaceTime call.
How to use hand gestures to trigger an effect on FaceTime and video calls
Rather than relying on manual taps, you can also activate these animated effects with specific gestures, although some may be more intuitive than others. For the most part, they worked as expected, even when I had a Memoji filter on. For instance, you can create a thumbs-up or thumbs-down bubble on the screen by performing the corresponding gesture – easy enough.
If you give a double thumbs-up with both hands, your screen goes dark, and you’ll get fireworks popping in the background. On the flip side, if you do a double thumbs-down, you’ll see a rainy animation take over the screen. And, if you’re feeling lovey-dovey and make a heart shape with your hands, your screen will light up with a bunch of heart emojis where your palms are.
While it might not be immediately obvious, throwing up a peace sign will fill your screen with a bunch of colorful floating balloons. Make it two peace signs and party confetti will appear, perfect for a celebratory mood. Now, for the trickiest one: if you want to see the laser light show appear, you’ll need to throw up two metal horns (🤘🤘).