Our Favourite Video Calling Apps Right Now
Posted on April 21 2020
Connecting over social media has never been so crucial or universally depended upon as it is right now. As we begin to come to terms with the current restrictions on our ability to physically connect with one another, almost all of us have turned to the virtual world to stay in contact with friends and loved ones.
Socialising over a visual medium means we don’t have to compromise on our fashion sense and the statements they make. So why settle for a dusty, old tracksuit that you’re ashamed to even own when you could be flaunting your favourite new threads at your next virtual house party?
As a result of the sudden reliance on virtual connectivity, most pre-existing social media and messaging platforms have enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity, while many more are now being introduced to the market. Choosing the right platform to best suit your needs can be tricky, even for the most experienced of social media veterans. Well, we’ve waded through the crowd, weeded out the pretenders and brought you our selection of the top social media platforms to use for video conference calling.
Initially launching in 2016 to an arguably lukewarm reception, Houseparty has recently experienced a staggering increase in popularity recently, no doubt due in part to the current lockdown situation.
Its success lies in emulating the freedom and casual spirit of a typical, real-world house party. Users are free to simply drop in and out of virtual chat rooms with their friends, and are presented with a great selection of interactive games to play including ‘Heads Up’ and ‘Quick Draw’. Houseparty distinguishes itself by circumnavigating the tedium and rigmarole that usually comes from setting up a chat room, by allowing users to simply jump into a room and join a group of friends who are already in a chat.
Of course, this may raise some concerns about privacy, but the app’s creators have made sure to include safeguarding features that allow for a safe and secure user experience. Welcome features such as the ability to lock a room to outsiders and the ability to ‘sneak in’ to the app without your friends being notified ensure that the control lies firmly with the user.
Arguably the most popular video conferencing service around right now, Zoom’s huge range of facilities and features make it appealing to every type of user. Whether you want to link up with friends and family for a casual hangout or connect with work colleagues for an important conference call, Zoom has something for everyone.
What’s great about this particular platform is that it was clearly built to accommodate large groups of people. It’s excellent ‘tiled view’ allows users to have multiple people visible on screen at the same time without things becoming too convoluted or making it susceptible to drops in performance.
Skype introduced many people to the world of online video conferencing. Most seasoned internet users will remember a time when Skype was really the only viable option for such a feature.
Although it’s now been forced to compete with other similar emerging platforms, it remains a solid option. Having had the time to refine its tried and tested formula, Skype draws on almost a decade’s worth of experience to deliver a focused and reliable user experience. It may not come complete with all the bells and whistles of alternative video chatting services, but what it does, it does extremely well. The user interface remains refreshingly clean and easy to interact with while launching into a video chat with friends and family is as straightforward as anyone could expect.
Were it not for its exclusivity to Apple users, FaceTime would probably be the easiest platform on this list to recommend. Not too unlike Skype, Apple’s FaceTime app has been around for a while, and thus comes with the virtue of years of finetuning. And it really does show.
FaceTime’s strength’s lie in its clean and intuitive user interface and its high-performance functionality. Simply put, it just works; how you need it to and when you need it to. It certainly isn’t found wanting with regards to the depth of its features either. FaceTime can easily facilitate up to 32 users at one time, allowing you to seamlessly connect with a large group of iPhone, iPad and Mac users. And on the rare occasion that you experience a dip in performance, you can easily switch to an audio-only mode and continue to chat away without missing a beat.
With just over 2 billion active users worldwide (as of early 2020), WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging platforms on the planet. With those kinds of statistics, it’s probably safe to assume that you already have it installed on your phone. And although it currently only supports a maximum of four participants in any one video call, the ubiquity of WhatsApp means that you and your contacts are probably already set up and ready to go.
Based off that relatively safe assumption, there should be no need to download and install a new piece of software and create yet another online account with yet another password to remember! Entering into a video chat with virtual companions is as straightforward as starting a call with everyone in your group at once, or simply adding other people to an existing video call.
The inherent simplicity of video calling via WhatsApp, thanks to the app’s expansive global reach, makes it easy for us to recommend this platform to almost anyone, and certainly earns it a spot on our list.