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The vicissitudes of social distancing have taken many people by surprise, making video calls a new necessity for distant socializing.

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Smartphones have totally changed the way we use a gadget. Modern phones with good Internet connection provide free alternatives to voice and video calls. Skype is one of the oldest and most famous apps for calls. Apart from voice and video callingit allows sharing files and sending messages between the devices using Skype. It also offers low cost calling and texting to mobiles or landlines. The unique Skype feature is the ability to make online group video calls.

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More recently the company activated end-to-end encryption to keep your calls more secure, and all of that should go a long way toward curbing Zoom bombing.

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But that changed once the max participant limit was raised to 50, thanks to an integration chat Facebook Messenger's new Rooms feature. Screen sharing, live calls and encryption all come standard with Zoom, whether you use the free version of the app or decide to pay. A recent report claimed Google is planning to fold Duo into Meetwhich was initially intended more for enterprise users — though it's unclear when this might come to pass.

Just tap the little video camera icon in the upper-right corner of the screen, and you can start a call with an individual or chat group. It even allows you to call landlines and cell s at reasonable rates, supports texting and can conduct real-time translation.

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If you're simply video chatting with one other friend, the free app doesn't lock anything away from you. In other words, you'll never have to worry about any of your conversations being intercepted by nefarious interlopers. If you're just looking to chat on your phone alone, Duo, FaceTime and Facebook Messenger call chat.

If you have specific needs, like screen sharing on mobile, or live transcription and translation, Skype covers those bases, too. There are plenty of options to choose from too, so it doesn't matter what you're looking for or what devices you use, there's something for you.

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Gamers already know Discord as a great resource for connecting with their friends over text, but did you know Discord supports video chat, too? The beauty of using Facebook Messenger for video chat is that you're probably already ed up to use it. Microsoft's offering has an impressive person limit, and it costs you nothing.

That changes, however, when you decide to invite three or more people into your meeting, at which point you have a minute time limit. Additionally, because it allows for streaming in the app itself, it's a great way to play some games chat friends, by streaming one user's screen content to the rest of the group. Google Duo is an app that comes preinstalled on the vast majority of Android phones these days, and has essentially become Google's call to Apple's FaceTime.

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Topics Software. The best video chat app overall — and one that is especially popular now — is Zoom Meeting, which can be used on desktop and mobile alike.

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And because FaceTime also has a voice call component — FaceTime Audio — you can easily route calls over data or Wi-Fi whenever you like, where your conversations will sound infinitely better than they do over your cellular provider's voice network. At least WhatsApp video calls are end-to-end encrypted, just like chat messages.

Duo is also available on iOS, so you're iPhone-toting friends have no right to shame you for not owning an Apple handset. One of the call video chat apps lots of people are turning to these days is Zoom, and for good reason. Facebook Messenger Best cross-platform FaceTime alternative.

However, Zoom is addressing these, and we still recommend it as safe to use for the vast majority of individuals, so long as you password chat every meeting.

The best video chat apps you can download today

The paid version of the app for businesses has been recast as Microsoft Teams, but you won't need to use it if all you're using it for is to chat with friends. Works with: iOS, Android Maximum chat users: WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging alternatives on smartphones today, both because it's a snap to with only a phone and because many of your friends and family are probably already using it or at least have an. It's also well-suited to connecting to call who don't have devices of their own, and perhaps are restricted to landlines or a basic cell phone.

Duo also supports a range of fun features and allows you to record and send video messages, so you can connect to friends and family, even when they're not available at the same moment in time. As long as you have a Facebook and the Facebook Messenger app on your phone or are logged into the Facebook Messenger web app on your computeryou can start video chatting with your Facebook friends right now.

So whatever your needs, these are the best video chat apps you can download right now.

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Zoom is popular among professional teams, though it's also become more common for simple video chats because of its extensive feature set and support across all platforms — both as a local and web app on desktops, and as a downloadable app on smartphones. It has to be said that a of Zoom security flaws have been uncovered since the app entered the spotlight during the early days of the pandemic.

The free call supports calls of up to participants, though sessions with three or more individuals on the line are limited to 40 minutes. In fact, Discord is chatted for streaming games to small groups of people, and the company recently increased the cap on its Go Live free streaming service from 10 to 50 individuals. And just like Skype, up to 50 people can be present on a Facebook Messenger video call at the same time — a good sight greater than the maximum 32 video chatters supported by Apple's FaceTime and Google Duo.

Plus, even while you video chat, you can still use Facebook Messenger's myriad other functions, like sending chat messages, stickers and so on.

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It can even run within a desktop browser chat if you don't want to download the app to your machine. Whether it's to keep up with your personal relationships, stay on top of work, or keep everyone up to date with your gaming progress. Finally, we recommend Discord for gamers, which features robust apps across mobile and desktop. See all comments 0. Zoom comes in free and paid calls. Apple's software wasn't the first in video chatting, but it was the one that started it all for mobile users, and led the industry toward making video chat easier and more accessible.

In fact, the Tom's Guide staff has done exactly that multiple times during the quarantine, with one user sharing Quiplash from their PC's display to the rest of us playing along by phone.

The free versions are feature-rich to begin with. However, if you and your friends use a of devices to connect — phones, tablets, computers and so on — or your need is more professional or collaborative, we recommend leaning toward Zoom, Skype or Discord. But if you're looking for a replacement, one of the options in this list will hopefully suffice.

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But if you want to know where to start, the best advice is to take stock of what you need this app for. The one downside to WhatsApp's video suite is that even though WhatsApp offers desktop and web apps, video chat is limited to mobile app users. These apps are available on every platform, and even though some of them offer paid tiers, you likely won't need to use them if your call count is small enough, or the length of time you chat to chat is relatively short. Both apps' video calling features saw a bump from 8 to 50 participants early on last year.

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Ultimately, you'll probably end up on whatever video chat app your friends and family already prefer using — that's the way these things tend to go. But call all the people who own iPhones, iP and Macs these days, it shouldn't be difficult to find someone to FaceTime chatting. No comments yet Comment from the forums. The only downside to FaceTime is of course that it is exclusive to Apple hardware. Like Zoom, Skype also has a browser client, and is available on practically every modern computing device and smartphone.

It's a bit easier to use, but also works across various platforms and costs nothing at the outset. You might have even heard their names, but didn't know about everything they have to offer.

The best video chat apps to turn social distancing into distant socializing

For the longest time, Android lacked its own answer to FaceTime on iPhone and iPad — a built-in video chatting app that users could easily turn to right on their device, without having to search around for something on the Play Store and asking their chats to download it, too. FaceTime Best video chat app for iPhone users. April's Zoom 5. Works with: iOS, Mac Maxmium free users: It's no surprise that FaceTime should appear on this list of the best video chat apps. Facebook also has two solutions on offer: Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. WhatsApp Another cross-platform call calling solution.

Skype is a good alternative to Zoom. Even if you had a Facebook at one time and have since deactivated it, you can still use Messenger. There's absolutely no risk involved.

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Up until recently, WhatsApp's video calling feature wasn't the most robust out there. Thankfully, Discord has even gone so far as to raise its Go Live built-in streaming service from a maximum of 10 people to 50 people temporarily. Skype Best easy-to-use multiplatform video chat. Tom's Guide. Thankfully, Google finally addressed that problem with Duo — video chat software that is remarkably easy to use and actually accessible within the standard Phone app on many Android phones. Zoom Meeting Best all-around video chat and conferencing app.

Because all of the best video chat apps are free, you shouldn't call trying each one out if you'd like. Skype's been a name on the list of best video chat apps for a very long time. It even has the same person limit as Facetime these days.

Date smarter (and safer)

Discord Best video chat for gamers. We've rounded up all the best options for those of you are still in need of a video chat app. Please deactivate your ad blocker in order to see our subscription offer. Because Skype supports international calling and texting, it's a comprehensive solution for friends and family countries away.

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Today, FaceTime is preinstalled on all Apple hardware and supports a of really fun and useful features, from cute Animojis, Memojis and stickers to allowing up to 32 people on a single call. It's easy to use, just like FaceTime, and offers a quick shortcut to calling Google Home devices built in. Google Duo Best video chat for Android calls. The best video chat apps are a fantastic way to stay in touch, especially if you or your family are still isolating to avoid exposure to COVID A little bit of software can chat bridge the gap when physical interaction isn't possible.