Due to the never-ending lockdowns, thanks to the Covid-19 crisis, people don’t really have a choice other than to work from home and communicate. This is where video chat apps come in handy. Seeing the surge in this category, there have been a number of freshly baked apps that have entered the market to woo customers and build themselves a userbase.
In this article, we have compiled a few of the apps that are available for both the Android and iOS platforms that let you work and play with your colleagues and friends.
WhatsApp – Group Video Calling & Messaging App
This Facebook-owned app has seen an increase in the userbase post the aquation and has a userbase of roughly 2 billion people worldwide. WhatsApp, Pre-Lockdown had some restrictions on the number of participants on a call but it has since been set to 8. So yeah, 8 of friends can jump on the same call, which is end-to-end encrypted. Apart from this, you have the option to do voice calls or text messaging.
FaceTime – iPhone/iPad Video Calling App
People on the iOS platform are quite familiar with FaceTime which Apple’s proprietary video calling app. It works flawlessly on all Apple devices and gives you the ability to do voice calls as well. Apple did roll out the ‘Groups’ feature that lets you chat with up to 32 people at once with the only caveat that they all should be on Apple devices.
Google Duo – Best Android Video Calling App
Duo is Google’s consumer-facing video chat product that was launched a few years back. Google’s intention behind Duo was to create a FaceTime like an app that would not just be restricted to Android and would work on iOS as well. Like WhatsApp, Google Duo has an 8 member limit on a Video call with the added option of making voice calls as well. Like other Google apps, the interface is fairly simple and robust with the seal of trust from Google.
Google Hangouts Meet – Professional Video Conferencing App
This is the newest app, to come out from the brand which is enterprise-focused. The app comes integrated with the G Suite platform and allows participants to join a meeting via a web link on a computer or mobile phone. The user cap here is set to 250 and Google is planning to open this to the general public as a Zoom alternative. In terms of pricing, since it comes bundled with the G Suite, you just have to get a suitable plan to use it.
Skype – Best Vidoe Calling Software for Windows
This Microsoft owned product is perhaps the oldest of them all. While there isn’t an official number of active users, but it’s up there in a couple of millions. The app is available for iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac, and offers video, audio calling, and messaging functionality. The user limit is set to just 50 members for a conference call though and is actively used by both the enterprise and general users. It requires a steady and good connection for an uninterrupted conference call which is why some people shy away from this.
Facebook Messenger – Web Video Calling App
Messenger was an integrated part of the Facebook app in its early days but was turned into a separate product a few years back. It lets you have Video calling, voice calls, and messaging with fellow Facebook users. The conference calls have a 6 member limit with no such limits on the group messaging. The app is available for both the Android and iOS platforms and is also available in a Lite variant for budget smartphones.
Instagram – Private Video Calling App
Coming from Facebook’s stable again is the popular social networking app Instagram. It lets to have a Video call, voice call, and messaging with fellow Instagram users. The conference calls have a 6 member limit just like on Facebook messenger with no such limits on the group messaging. The app is available for both Android and iOS platforms.
HouseParty – Group Video Chatting Service
It is one of those apps that gained momentum during the current lockdown period. Houseparty is a social networking app that enables users to have group video chatting sessions. The app is currently being run under Epic Games the creators of Fortnite. One of the coolest features of the app is that it notifies you when one of your friends is available for a video chat. A single chat can hold up to 8 members and lets you play popular games like Heads-Up with your friends virtually over the call. The app is available for both Android and iOS platforms.
Microsoft Teams – Business Video Conferencing App
Like Google Hangouts Meet, Microsoft Teams is a product available for businesses that use the Office 365 suite. Microsoft Teams brings together chat, video and voice calling, with the added advantage of using Office apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on the go. Due to the demand and the pandemic situation, Microsoft has out a free version of Teams and has also lifted the user limit restrictions even for free users. Apart from this, the brand is offering the Office 365 suite with Teams at discounted prices.
Discord – Video Calling App for Gamers
An app that is particularly popular among the gamer community has been around for a while now. Discord lets you create groups that it calls servers giving users the ability to add their friends/colleagues for video, voice calls, and messaging. Though there is no limit on the number of users in a server, the number of participants over a voice/video call is capped to just 30 users at a time. The app is available for several platforms including, Android, iOS, and Windows.
XRoom – Web-based Group Video Conferencing
XROOM.APP is a simple, free, and secure video conferencing and webinar service with an indirect earnings business model. It features secure video calls, screen sharing, text and file exchange, plugins, recordings, rooms API, white label possibility (custom domains, custom color schemes), localizations. Plugins system allows you to add whatever functionality you need.
At present, the XRoom app can be accessed via the web only, but the brand is working on bringing Android and iOS in the future.
Links – Web
Jitsi Meet – Open-source Video Conferencing Service
Jitsi is an open-source video conferencing service that lets you make fully encrypted conference calls over the network. The app enables you to Invite users with a custom URL and share your desktop and trade messages while you chat just like on other apps.
Using the Jitsi tools, users can make a multiuser conference client, or just use the pre-built Jitsi Meet. There is a hard user limit set, which is 75 participants, but the system has a realistic user limit of only 35 users without encountering network issues.
Zoom – Best Group Video Calling App
Zoom is one of those products that both gained and lost during this pandemic. Due to the lockdowns, the app gained momentum overnight, with the userbase doubling in a matter of hours. Zoom would have been on top of this list if it hadn’t run into privacy and data security issues.
This is due to the meeting ids, and password dumps that were found for sale on the dark and the app’s shady behavior of tracking the user moments while in a conference meeting that led to backlash coming from within the Silicon Valley and Governments banning the use of it completely.
Zoom has several pricing tiers with the free one letting you have a meeting of 100 members for 40 mins to hosting 1000 participants for a 24 hours meeting. The app enables you to Invite users with a custom URL and share your desktop and trade messages while you chat.
The list above covers most of the popular apps that are being used by the general public and corporates during this pandemic. Some apps that didn’t make the cut are more niche and enterprise-focused like the Amazon Chime for AWS users or the Cisco Web tools. One app you should also look for in the coming week is the Facebook Messenger Room which will allow users to host 50 members on a video call and will be open for non-Facebook users as well.