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10 video chat apps to use if you're social distancing

EHL Insights
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Even before the COVID-19 pandemic made working remotely from home a necessity for many people, videoconferencing was an important part of many businesses. However, as current circumstances have dictated, it can also play an important role for those of you who are staying at home far more than usual.

Along with conducting business, many top video chat apps allow you to chat with friends, stay in touch with beloved family members, organize virtual parties, and so much more.

But with so many of these video chat apps now available for your use, it may be difficult knowing which ones would best suit you. If you're needing help with this, here are ten of the best with their various pros and cons.

1. Facetime

Created by Apple, Facetime has proven itself to be a very popular video chat app. Considered to have extremely high video quality, Facetime easily integrates with virtually all other Apple devices. Whether it is two users with Mac computers or those who may be using an iPhone or iPad, you can use this platform to initiate or take part in video calls. Used by companies to conduct virtual meetings and business discussions, it is also very useful if you just want to chat with some friends or family members who may be elsewhere.

Pros:

  • Best for calling friends
  • Quick setup
  • Contacts can be easily organized
  • High-definition video

Cons:

  • Can use large amounts of data
  • Users may need to spend more to increase their data plans

2. WhatsApp

Currently viewed as the most popular messaging app on all mobile devices, WhatsApp has been around for several years, demonstrating it has most of its flaws already worked out. Featuring end-to-end encryption, meaning it is a secured messenger and thus nobody will be able to read your conversations, not even the folks at WhatsApp, it also has two-step verification. This will not only make your account more secure, but also your conversations as well. For many people who may own an Android phone, WhatsApp has been and continues to be the preferred video chat app.

Pros:

  • Extremely user-friendly
  • Best for calling friends on all types of mobile devices
  • Audio and video calling
  • Decreased data usage per call without sacrificing quality
  • An add-free app

Cons:

  • Lack of content censorship
  • Can't upload files larger than 100MB

3. Skype

Without a doubt, Skype is the most well-known video conferencing platform in existence today. Created and owned by Microsoft, it offers you a free way to conduct videoconferencing with as many as 50 people. Easy to integrate with other Microsoft programs such as Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, it will let you do screen sharing and instant messaging anytime. Very familiar to most people since it has been around longer than most other platforms, it is good to use when kids are wanting to video chat with older relatives.

Pros:

  • Best for group chats
  • Very functional
  • Free to set up
  • Good security
  • Good for people of all ages

Cons:

  • Can be somewhat awkward to set up
  • Not as many features as newer video chat apps

4. Marco Polo

If you've used other video chat apps in the past such as Snapchat and Messenger, you've probably gotten more familiar with Marco Polo. A video messaging app that lets you record videos to send to other users as well as receive videos others send to you, Marco Polo has been referred to as an app that can instantly turn your smartphone into a video walkie-talkie. Gaining in popularity, it is not tied to any other social media sites. Because of this, you can keep your conversations with others very private, making it more similar to text messaging but adding the video element.

Pros:

  • Best for sending offline video messages
  • Allows you to start, pause, and come back to your videos anytime
  • Easy to download and learn to use
  • Good for group video messages
  • You can add various filters, draw, and add sound effects to your videos

Cons:

  • Lack of real-time video chats
  • Not connected with social media sites

5. Facebook Messenger

Unless you've been hiding under a rock or living in a cave for the past decade, you've heard of Facebook Messenger. One of the most popular and well-known apps available, it has been credited with revolutionizing video chat apps of all types. Though part of Facebook, this app will allow you to access the messaging system through Facebook without having to actually access Facebook itself. Thus, if you're using various types of mobile devices, you've got a much easier way to communicate with others while on the go.

Pros:

  • Best for Facebook friends
  • Easy to send files and links, making it good for teleworking
  • Users can speak to one another
  • You can send text and pictures without incurring additional costs

Cons:

  • Quickly drains your device's battery
  • Can be hard to protect your privacy
  • May use in excess of 100 MB of storage space on your device

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6. Zoom

As the COVID-19 pandemic has played out, almost everyone out there has gotten to know Zoom very, very well. If you are using the free version, you can be joined by as many as 100 people for up to 40 minutes. Offering Chrome and Linux OS support, it provides very secure communication thanks to its secure socket layer encryption. As it has been perfected more and more in the past few years, many individuals and businesses have switched to Zoom from other similar platforms so they can more easily connect with clients and customers.

Pros:

  • Screen sharing available from mobile devices, desktops, and tablets
  • High-definition video and voice capabilities
  • Private and group chat and messaging
  • Whiteboarding
  • Can join a meeting by telephone
  • Best for live video

Cons:

  • Must subscribe to premium plans for additional services

7. Microsoft Teams

Known as a catch-all video chat app, Microsoft Teams is full of features and is of course easy to integrate with other Microsoft programs. Offering free as well as paid versions, you can take advantage of price reductions for Microsoft Teams during the COVID-19 pandemic. A very interactive platform, you'll have the capability to begin video conferences from various chat rooms.

Pros:

  • Best for Office 365 integration
  • Easy file storage and sharing
  • 24/7 support via phone and web
  • Can accommodate up to 300 users
  • Does support voicemail on Android and iOS

Cons:

  • Can be complicated for new users
  • May need to subscribe to get needed services

8. Houseparty

A video-chatting app that has gotten very popular with the younger generation, Houseparty is compatible with Android and iOS phones. However, what sets it apart from other similar apps is its ability to offer private streaming in real-time to your close friends and contacts. When doing so, up to seven people can join in at any given time, with each of them appearing on your phone's screen. Practical and resourceful, it already boasts more than 1 million users.

Pros:

  • Best for playing games together
  • Interactive and live video-chat options
  • High-quality video calls
  • Free memberships
  • Private and secure connection
  • Easy to integrate friends listed in your phone's address book

Cons:

  • Mainly geared toward younger demographic

9. Google Hangouts Meet

Though not very sophisticated, you will probably find Google Hangouts Meet a good app to use for basic videoconferencing. With apps that are readily available for mobile users of all devices, this platform can be easily managed within your browser, so you won't have to worry about unexpected complications. While you can enjoy many of the Google Hangouts Meet features for free, you will also have the option to get more services through a paid-for option.

Pros:

  • Best for Google and G Suite users
  • Unlimited call time
  • Can accommodate up to 25 users
  • Many services included in its free version

Cons:

  • Lacking more sophisticated features of other video chat apps
  • Will need paid option to access more services

10. Amazon Chime

If you thought Amazon was not involved in developing video chat apps, you were wrong. Though many industry experts think Amazon Chime has tremendous potential, most agree it is still a few years away from competing with Zoom and other similar apps. Able to be used across all operating systems, it does come at a cost. Though it is free for up to two users, it can cost as much as $15 per month to use this app, so you may want to look around before making this selection.

Pros:

  • Best for AWS users
  • Offers video recording and screen sharing
  • Remote desktop controls
  • Easy chat room functionality
  • Easy for novices to use

Cons:

  • Lacking multi-language support
  • No whiteboarding

No matter which of these video chat apps you decide to use, you will find each offers an array of options that will help take your videoconferencing to the next level. Whether you are using Zoom to conduct a business meeting or perhaps are on Houseparty playing games with your friends, you'll be amazed at what you can do. In addition, as you get more comfortable with the features associated with these platforms, you'll be able to do even more. Therefore, grab your phone, download the apps, and get started with your next great video chat.

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