Zoom can be used on either desktop or mobile
With the development of innovative apps, people are relying on video-chat apps more than ever at home and at work.
Whether it be living away from relatives or working remotely, there are a variety of video-chat apps to ensure face-to-face interaction.
Within the household, these apps can be used to socialise with a large number of family and friends.
The same can be said for the workplace, with many companies preferring to hold virtual meetings, with employees taking part in them wherever they are.
The apps offer different features and can be suited for both desktop and mobile devices.
Here are some of the best video-chat apps to try out, along with their pros and cons.
Zoom is arguably the most well-known video-chat app as it is primarily used for business meetings.
Users have the ability to share their screen, message the group and even send across files and photos from a cloud service of their choice.
Zoom can be used on either desktop or mobile though it is worth pointing out that the app is more computer-friendly.
Launching a meeting is also simple. At the click of a button, users can either generate a link to send to friends or type in an email address to send the link directly to someone’s inbox.
However, the vast amount of features do come with drawbacks.
For example, it is not the easiest interface to navigate when starting out.
Zoom also has a number of pricing tiers. With the free version, meetings with more than three people cut out after 40 minutes. Paid subscription options provide access to over 100 participants and unlimited meeting lengths.
Google Hangouts is a good video-chat app to use at home and at work as it provides a nice balance for workers and socialisers.
However, there are two versions which can be confusing when looking for the app.
Hangouts Meet is the enterprise version for businesses while Hangouts Chat is the consumer version, used for connecting with friends.
Having the two platforms means that Google has a nice balance between catering to those who want to remotely socialise and business users looking to hold important meetings.
Hangouts Meet requires a G-Suite subscription to use. It allows users to connect with up to 250 people at a time with the advanced subscription.
A benefit is that it connects seamlessly with G-Suite, so any calendar invites will be sent straight to one’s inbox with a link to join the meeting.
The free version is slightly more restrictive, with a maximum hangout size of 25 people.
Compared to its rivals, Google Hangouts is easier to use and way more fun. Containing emojis, stickers and GIFs, it feels a lot more modern.
When it comes to long-distance socialising, Houseparty is all the rage, especially among young people. This video-app is specifically designed for socialising and chatting.
It allows users to chat with up to eight friends at a time.
When first signing up, users are prompted to give Houseparty access to contacts, Facebook and Snapchat. This lets them see which friends are already on Houseparty.
As soon as they are connected, users can immediately start inviting people to group video chats. This means that the hassle of asking for their username and manually typing it in is avoided.
Think of the video-chat app as the house. Whenever a friend opens the app, the enter the house and you can immediately start chatting.
If no one is online, a notification can be sent to get the party started.
An interesting aspect is that users can join in a conversation even if they were not invited. While it lets friends drop in on each other without prior notice, it can also be seen as invasive, which may not be great for young children.
The games are what makes it different from other video-chat apps. Users can enjoy numerous games all while video chatting.
Additional features allow users to record group chats and share their screen.
While it is excellent for socialising with family and friends, it is not suitable for holding business meetings.
Microsoft Teams is a popular choice as it has a number of innovative features to make conversations a priority for the user.
There is a nice background blur feature which lets users phase out the background of a video during a meeting. This means that if a family member walks into the shot, people in the conversation will not be distracted.
It also includes features like screen sharing and screen recordings to file sharing and GIFs, stickers and emojis.
However, it does come with several cons which may put people off.
The user interface can be confusing to navigate, especially when they should be simple to understand.
Users also cannot have a quick spontaneous meeting. They have to physically invite existing participants into a team and then start a meeting.
This can be confusing for users when all they want to do is to socialise.
There may be some innovative features, but there are also shortcomings. Nevertheless, many people continue to use the video-chat app.
The majority of us are familiar with Facetime so it is no surprise that it is one of the best ways to have face-to-face interaction with loved ones and with co-workers.
Although it is only available to those with an Apple device, it has lots of fun features and is easy to use.
If you want to speak to one person, simply go to their contact number and press the FaceTime button. This makes it great for checking in on someone while maintaining social distance.
Group calls were introduced by Apple in 2018 and they allow users to make a FaceTime call with up to 32 people.
It is easy. All you have to do is to go on the FaceTime app and click the Plus button to add all your contacts and then click the video button.
In the call, participants will appear in bubbles that grow bigger as they speak.
FaceTime is definitely more for socialising than it is for business use. It’s got a lot of fun features, like being able to create live photos from your FaceTime calls or change your face into an Animoji.
Users can also add filters and stickers to the video by putting them right onto the screen.
It is simple but it is slick and as it is a main aspect of Apple devices, FaceTime is free.
FaceTime is not just limited to phones. Users can also make and accept them from a Mac or iPad. If a Mac is being used, the call can be recorded, similar to Zoom and Google Hangouts.
These video-chat apps are some of the best when it comes to wanting to talk to large groups of people but it is not limited to just these.
Apps like Skype are still prominent, with no time limit and supporting big groups, however, it has become outdated in this day and age.
There are also newer apps like Bunch and Squad which integrate sharing whilst chatting. Although this is a niche feature, it might be a hit or miss with users.
Nevertheless, it shows that there is a range of video-chat apps available for people to use either at work or at home.