The social communication system has started to go through a significant change due to the coronavirus-led lockdown and social distancing norms, which have taken many people by surprise, making video calling a new necessity for distant conversations. People are forced to use video calling apps to socialise, hold office meetings, conduct lectures for students, and more, which has ultimately led to a significant spike in user activity on apps like Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Meets, and WhatsApp.
However, there are dozens of apps available across different platforms - iOS, Android, macOS and Windows - to chat with friends and family. Here's a list of video calling services available on different platforms to choose from.
For small groups:
Skype: This online telecommunications service has been available for free for a long time on both smartphones and desktop. This app provides good quality video calls for both mobile and desktop communication and supports big groups for free, but lags behind in emoji reactions, status updates and other features which are available on other platforms.
Facebook Messenger: This Facebook's messaging service is hailed by its users for its simple interface and group messaging features. However, one cannot access this service unless they have a Facebook account. FB Messenger supports up to eight people in video calls with no limit on duration. Additionally, when making a two-person call, it provides a peer-to-peer structure for better security and potentially avoiding congestion.
WhatsApp Messenger: This is currently the most popular smartphone communication service available with over 2 billion users worldwide. The Facebook-owned messaging platform offers a secure messaging option with a major focus on privacy. WhatsApp also offers the most simple mobile interface, as to activate it one has to just start the application, hit the call button, select the participants and click on the camera icon.
Google Duo: Duo is one of Google's latest messaging product, which was started as a complement to Google Allo project and was meant to be the consumer version of Hangouts. This app works pretty well for any user with a Google account and is connected to their Google contacts for straightforward and unlimited video calls.
For bigger groups:
Zoom: This is one of the most popular business video conference application available across all platforms due to its web integration, reliability, and many other features. However, the application has received some flak recently for poor security standards which have led to users' sensitive data being leaked over the internet.
Google Meet: Google has recently split its Hangouts application into Chat and Meet. Google Meet, also known as Hangouts Meet, is the tech giant's video conferencing solution inbuilt into Google's suite of apps like - Gmail, YouTube, Google Voice, and more. Google Meet can also be accessed through desktop web browsers like Safari, Chrome, Mozilla and Edge. However, this app only allows hosting a meeting with up to 100 participants with a 24-hour time limit and offers real-time collaboration tools at $6 per month.
Facebook Messenger Rooms: Messenger Rooms is a new feature available on both Facebook and its Messenger app. Messenger Rooms enables users to video chat with up to 50 participants. The application also offers some additional features like AR filters and virtual backgrounds. The app is available for both mobile and desktop users and is free to use with no time limit on video calls. Interestingly, Facebook is planning to link Messenger Rooms with Instagram soon.
Microsoft Teams: Microsoft Teams is a chat-based workspace that can hold video meetings with up to 10,000 people. Microsoft also allows users to download meetings and save then on OneDrive cloud storage. This app works with most platforms and integrates easily with all other Microsoft apps. Microsoft Teams also provides features like call recording and screen sharing. However, there is a free version of Teams available, but it lacks some features. Team's cheapest subscription plan starts at $5 a month, with an additional $4 per user fee to use the call-in capabilities.