Internet and technology, in general, is an enabler of connected communities. Now, it doesn’t matter which part of the globe you are present, as long as you have a stable internet connection and either a smartphone or a computer, you can see and converse with other people. This takes even more precedence in times like these. Video calling apps let us connect with our dear ones and colleagues from work.
But, at the same time, these social media tools have their perils and pitfalls, the biggest one being privacy. The latest culprits are Zoom and Houseparty, both of which started trending amid Coronavirus lockdown.
So, here we have aggregated a list of the best video conferencing apps. You could try these while working from home or for having a casual conversation with family and friends.
Top Video Chat apps in India
1. Skype / Microsoft Teams
- Owned by Microsoft
- USP: Best for video-chatting with your group of friends or team members from office.
- Maximum participants at a time: 50
- Compatible with: Android and iOS, Windows, iPadOS, web browser, Alexa, and Xbox.
For even better features such as Persistent chats and granular denomination based chats, check out Microsoft Teams. In fact, it’s said that eventually, Teams will replace Skype. Its tagline is – Work remotely without feeling remote, which pretty much sums up its value proposition.
- Maximum participants at a time: 5,000 in an organization to even 500,000 (created by global admins). Check out more details here.
- Compatible with: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android
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2. Google Duo
- Owned by: Google
- USP: Simple interface, works right from the dialer app, and superior audio-video quality even on low bandwidth connections
- Maximum participants at a time: 12 people
- Compatible with: Windows, Android, and iOS
3. Whatsapp / Facebook Messenger Rooms / Instagram
- Owned by: Facebook
- USP: huge userbase, ubiquitous
- Maximum participants at a time on Whatsapp: 8
- Compatible with: Android, iOS (video call from desktop not possible at the moment)
In case you’re an avid Facebook user, there are Messenger “Rooms” too which supports up to 50 video participants simultaneously. It lets you invite people through link sharing on your News Feed, Groups, and Events. Soon, the company would be integrating all its apps with Rooms.
And since we are talking about Facebook, how can we leave out its most popular app, viz. Instagram. It allows up to six users on a video chat simultaneously.
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- Owned by: Apple
- USP: It just works without any fuzz; a go-to option for Apple users, comes integrated with iOS and iPad and Mac.
- Maximum participants at a time: 32
- Compatible with: iPhones, iPads, and Mac
If you’re unaware, Zoom’s popularity has seen a sudden spike ever since the Covid-19 lockdown was enforced across several countries. Zoom stands apart from its peers as it allows –
- up to 100 participants (in the free-tier), suitable for big-enterprise conferences.
- unlimited one-to-one meetings.
- The only caveat is that the video chat can extend up to 40 minutes only.
- Rest, it works on Android, iOS, PC, and Mac.
- It also lets you share screens, record meetings, generate transcripts and integrate with 3rd party services like Outlook, Gmail, and iCal.
- Ever since the company got heavy backlash over its privacy holes, the company has upgraded its security to AES 256 encryption on all meetings.
You can fix some of the Zoom security concerns from your end by following these steps.
- Owned by Fortnite developer Epic Games
- USP: Fun and Funky especially for current social distancing scenario. It has Games such as trivia and Heads Up! which you play with your friends.
- Compatible with: iOS, Android, macOS, and Chrome.
- Maximum participants at a time: 8
Now, there have been allegations made against Houseparty’s privacy conduct. Again, it’s up to your choice.
We are investigating indications that the recent hacking rumors were spread by a paid commercial smear campaign to harm Houseparty. We are offering a $1,000,000 bounty for the first individual to provide proof of such a campaign to email@example.com.
— Houseparty (@houseparty) March 31, 2020
Best Video Calling apps
You can give both Zoom and Houseparty a whirl if you’re like pfff! privacy. But, we have had such mishaps with other apps too in the past. So, it all boils down to whether you weigh privacy more or convenience more.
Last but definitely not the least, there are niche options like Discord (for gamers and max video call limit of 15 participants), Marco Polo (Android | iOS for sending short video bytes), Signal (Android | iOS for an end-end encrypted solution).
Which one do you prefer? Let us know down in the comments.