Group FaceTime is wrecking my Mac on macOS Monterey

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Not to be all “there’s a nasty bug with Group FaceTime in macOS 12” here, but there’s kind of a nasty bug with Group FaceTime in macOS 12. I’m sure it’s on Apple’s radar already without my feedback, but I only realized this weekend that it’s not just me. That part is a relief!

Here’s how it goes. Group FaceTime works great for hours at a time – most of the time. Then out of nowhere, the Mac freezes and the only escape hatch is holding the power button down until it shuts off.

The Mac doesn’t totally freeze, though. True Tone turns off and on, the beach ball persistently spins, and a series of profile password requests pop up.

“CommCenter wants to use the ‘login’ keychain,” and so does iCloudNotificationAgent, assistantd, shared, and callservicesd. You can enter your password or cancel. Either way, the Mac is stuck in a loop with these requests until you force a power down.

When you boot back up and log in to your profile, Messages and FaceTime both have to sign back in (prompting new sign-in notifications on the iPhone).

I didn’t find any mentions of this bug online, but a Space Explored colleague mentioned that it happened on their M1 iMac as well. I’m sure FaceTime is more popular than Group FaceTime, and FaceTime on an iPhone or iPad is used more than FaceTime on the Mac.

Bugs happen, and sometimes gremlins from beta versions of operating systems linger around for a while. Not completely convinced that my colleague and I were experiencing the same bug, I tried erasing and reinstalling macOS.

Unfortunately, the reinstall effort didn’t go well. The Magic Mouse that comes with the iMac wouldn’t pair when connected over the wire. The fix for this was buying a cheap wired mouse and using my USB-A to USB-C adapter to connect it and use it for reinstalling macOS.

Success! macOS reinstalled flawlessly and my Magic Mouse successfully paired again. Cool. Then Group FaceTime crashed the iMac again with the very first call I made. Eek.

I did rule out it being an iMac-specific issue after using my M1 MacBook Air with a potato-quality webcam. This time I was actually relieved that Group FaceTime crashed my Mac! It’s not a bad OS installation and it’s not my hardware.

My guess is something related to Group FaceTime’s new SharePlay feature is breaking something behind the scenes. SharePlay works on the iPhone and iPad, and it’s coming to the Mac in the next update to macOS Monterey.

It’s probable that the lousy experience with Group FaceTime on the Mac is fixed in the upcoming macOS update, especially since it has a focus on SharePlay. For now, I’m not keen on running beta software and being unsure if a bug is because of the beta or not. Instead, I’m using one Mac for writing and another device for Group FaceTime.

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