iOS 17 FaceTime gestures not working? 11 Ways to fix it!

FaceTime gestures not working

Apple took FaceTime a notch higher in iOS 17 by adding a reaction feature to use 3D effects. However, many users reported that they could not use hand gestures to trigger FaceTime reaction effects on their iPhones. Worry not! Below are troubleshooting tips to help you fix FaceTime gesture reactions not working issue on iPhone in iOS 17.

  1. Ensure iOS 17 is installed
  2. Check model compatibility
  3. Check the FaceTime Server Status
  4. Enable FaceTime reactions for video calls
  5. Use the front camera
  6. Use the correct hand gestures
  7. Ensure proper framing
  8. Try using manual reactions
  9. Disable and re-enable FaceTime
  10. Uninstall and reinstall FaceTime
  11. Reset All Settings

1. Ensure iOS 17 is installed

Since FaceTime hand gestures is a new feature, you must update your iPhone’s software to iOS 17 to trigger and use them. You can only view FaceTime reactions on your iPhone on an older iOS version. To upgrade your software to iOS 17, go to Settings → General → Software Update

2. Check model compatibility

If you’re done updating to iOS 17, check if your iPhone device is compatible with FaceTime hand gestures. Capturing real-time gestures takes a lot of processing power, so older iPhone models can’t process real-time gestures and translate them into augmented-reality effects.

On older models that support iOS 17, including the iPhone SE (2020), iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone 11, FaceTime hand gestures won’t work. If you own any of these models, you can use Facetime reactions by going to the Control Center to trigger them manually (more on this in a bit).

3. Check the FaceTime Server Status

Check for FaceTime server status

Before doing further troubleshooting, check if the issue is with FaceTime itself. While rare, there might be an issue with FaceTime’s servers. Go to Apple’s System Status page and see if FaceTime is available (in green). If there’s an issue, there’s no other solution but to wait until Apple fixes the server’s problem.

4. Enable FaceTime reactions for video calls

Once you’ve downloaded iOS 17, FaceTime reactions should be enabled by default. However, you may have accidentally turned it off in the Control Center. Thus, FaceTime gestures are not working. Turn it on again by doing the following:

  1. Access the Control Center.
  2. Select Video Effects → Tap Reactions.

    Enable FaceTime gestures

5. Use the front camera

By default, FaceTime uses your front, aka “selfie” camera, when doing video calls. If you’ve switched to the rear camera, you won’t be able to use FaceTime reactions. While the rear camera offers better video quality and resolution, the front camera can only detect gestures and trigger FaceTime reactions.

So, tap the camera flip at the bottom-right of the screen to switch from the rear camera to the front camera.

6. Use the correct hand gestures

Apple designated specific hand gestures to trigger FaceTime reactions on your iPhone. It’s possible that the gestures you’re making don’t quite match the required gestures to trigger the reaction. Below is the list of 8 hand gestures you can do that’ll trigger a FaceTime reaction:

Use proper gestures on FaceTime
  • One hand thumbs up 👍🏽 : Shows a like sticker
  • One hand thumbs down 👎🏽 : Dislike sticker
  • Both hands thumbs up: Displays fireworks behind you
  • Both hands thumbs down: Rain animation
  • Heart sign 🫶🏽 : Triggers red heart stickers
  • Peace sign with one hand✌🏽: Shows flying balloons from the bottom of the screen
  • Peace sign with two hands: Starts confetti
  • Rock sign with two hands 🤘🏽 : Enjoy your laser show

7. Ensure proper framing

Aside from making the appropriate hand gesture, make sure that the gesture is within the camera’s view and away from your face. Be patient and hold the gesture until the reaction appears. Both your hands and face should be properly visible in the frame.

Also, the FaceTime gestures may not work if your iPhone camera is blurry. So, try cleaning your iPhone’s screen where the front camera is to help your device recognize the gestures better.

8. Try using manual reactions

If triggering FaceTime reactions through gestures doesn’t work, you can do it manually instead.

  1. Tap and hold on to your camera’s preview window, showing your face.
  2. Select the icon of the reaction you want to show. 

    Try using manual reactions

9. Disable and re-enable FaceTime

Before you take more drastic measures, force quitting the app may help flush out any glitches causing FaceTime gestures not to work in iOS 17. After this, restart your iPhone and try using FaceTime again.

If this doesn’t work, try refreshing FaceTime to clear the bugs, cache issues, and other things running in the background conflicting with the feature.

  1. Go to Settings → FaceTime.
  2. Toggle FaceTime off.

    Disable and re-enable FaceTime
  3. Do a quick restart and enable FaceTime again.
  4. Try using gestures on a FaceTime call.

10. Uninstall and reinstall FaceTime

If the tip above doesn’t fix the issue, check if the app is due for an update. If so, update the app before using FaceTime reactions again. You may also uninstall FaceTime to clear old app data and freshly install the app.

  1. Delete the FaceTime app.
  2. Turn off your iPhone, wait a few minutes, and turn it back on.
  3. Go to the App Store and reinstall Facetime.
  4. Then head to Settings → FaceTime to set it back up correctly.

11. Reset All Settings

Resetting your settings should ideally be your final resort in resolving FaceTime reactions not working issues on your iPhone. This approach effectively addresses problems from misconfigured settings that can’t be addressed using the above methods.

Factory resetting all settings restores your settings to default without wiping out data and other media from your iPhone. 


On which iPhone devices do FaceTime hand gestures work?

FaceTime hand gestures are only available on iPhone 12 or later models.

Does iPad and Mac support FaceTime hand gestures in iOS 17? 

Yes, iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th gen and later), iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd gen and later), iPad (10th gen), iPad Air (4th gen and later), iPad mini (6th gen) and Macs with Apple Silicon running macOS Sonoma supports FaceTime gestures.

Wrapping up…

It’s pretty usual for you to experience difficulties when using new features. I hope these simple fixes resolve the FaceTime gestures not working issue. If none of the above solutions prove effective, contact Apple support to diagnose the problem, as it could be a hardware-related issue.

Were any tips mentioned above successful in getting the FaceTime gestures to work on your device? We’d love to hear about your experiences below!

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