Quarantine is the time when we need communication more than ever. And since we can leave house only to get groceries, our selection of 7 best apps for video & audio conferencing is here to help you stay in touch with the close ones. Use it to melt the ice of isolation away!
1. Skype – Good Old Classic
Skype has been with us for 17 years. Since then a lot has changed for the messenger. It was acquired by Microsoft. Its privacy terms have been renewed. And the app’s functionality got more bells and whistles, some of which are pretty helpful.
Apart from audio/video calls, Skype also offers:
- Screen sharing;
- Voice and video notes;
- Secured conversations;
- File transfer – DOC, PDF, MP3, JPG, JPEG;
- Live subtitles if you can’t use audio at the moment.
And just like in 2005, you still can call a landline or mobile number at a low cost: for the US it’s only $3 per month.
The biggest downside of Skype is that it takes too long for the app to open. As for the call quality, it remains pretty decent about 83% of the time. But if your network downgrades to 3G, prepare for overwhelming glitches.
The messenger allows you to call up to 50 people at once. And hosting such a massive conference is free of charge! So be it your work colleagues, creative team or Clash of Clans guild – Skype will help you discuss anything of importance.
For Star Wars fans Skype has a special treat. You get to liven up your convos with exclusive Kylo Ren, Stormtrooper, Porg, Chewie, Han Solo, and other emoticons.
2. WhatsApp – Free. Reliable. Emerald-green.
WhatsApp is by far the best messenger on the market. There’s a number of good reasons for it:
- Price. WhatsApp costs $0 and shows no ads.
- Security. Thanks to end-to-end encryption, your dialogues stay impenetrable to hackers.
- Quality. Somehow, the messenger always provides great call quality. Even if your connectivity is weak or your Wi-Fi signal lags, you still can talk to a person.
As for group calls, it really isn’t the app’s strong side. You can quickly organize a group chat from the contact list. But the regular version of the app allows you to call only 4 people at once.
On the brighter side, WhatsApp has a few cool features: quick file transfer, voice notes, expirable Stories, iconic emojis, etc. Also, the app is expected to add Instagram support. That means you’ll be able to add an IG Story right from the messenger.
3. FaceTime – Apple Crowd Only
FaceTime is an instant messenger available for Apple devices only. If you have one of those, you will enjoy unlimited texting, satisfying call quality, and a ton of quirky video filters.
FaceTime is pretty generous when it comes to group calls – up to 32 participants can be invited. It’s a sufficient number for an office team, raid clan or a very large family.
The only flaw is that it’s not cross-platform. In case one of your mates, colleagues, creative partners or distant cousins doesn’t have an Apple gizmo — they won’t make it to the party.
The rest of the app’s functionality is standard. You get a roster of emojis, you can set ringless notifications, switch from video to audio in case the signal is poor, etc. Animoji and memoji will also let you lighten up the mood of a conversation.
4. IMO – A Little Messenger That Could
IMO is a humble workhorse famous for its capability to work anywhere. All because it supports 3G and even 2G networks. Also, it goes easy on the mobile data. What’s even cooler, IMO works fine on old devices. Even those whose OS is barely supported by other messengers anymore.
If because of quarantine you’re stuck in a place where the signal is atrocious — IMO can be your life-saver. It’s one of the reasons why it’s so popular in countries whose mobile networks are in the infancy state. Plus it doesn't require much disk space — IMO’s size is barely 19 MB. A free group call can host up to 6 members.
5. Houseparty – Online Party Beasts
Houseparty saw a sharp rise in downloads after quarantine began. Why? Because it allows you to party with your friends online! Of course, there will be no rum punch, Nintendo Wii or a bawl of Pringles. But instead you create a few thematic rooms, where up to 8 people can talk about a topic they like.
Rooms can be joined/left anytime. Or, if there’s a secret conversation, you can make it private so no one interferes. Besides, Houseparty offers in-built games. The coolest one is Heads Up, which neatly mimics classic charades.
6. Marco Polo – For Special Conversations
Marco Polo is a pretty unique application, which brings an intimate vibe to your dialogues. First, it claims that no private data of yours is ever sold to greedy corporations. Second, Marco Polo promises that it’s the #1 family-friendly messenger.
Marco Polo seems to resolve time zone and schedule conflicts. With it, you can send a video message anytime or share a photo + text. Your contact gets them later and can respond in the same manner when they have a moment of freedom from all obligations.
Besides, the app stores your video convos on a cloud service. So, no memorable moments or important news will be lost. And with Marco Polo’s video effects and voice filters you can bring a bit of goofiness to your chats.
7. Facebook Messenger – An Old, Old Friend
Odds are you have an FB account. If yes, then why search somewhere else for a group call app? FB Messenger has all you need:
- Unlimited texting;
- Emojis, stickers, and GIFs;
- Delayed video and voice notes;
- Conference calls with up to 50 people.
The latter is quite impressive – most apps stick to just a few contacts you can call simultaneously. But there’s even more to enjoy in Messenger!
The app is also famous for a big roster of multiplayer games. Solo or with your friends you can play Batman’s Bat Climb, 8-ball Pool, Space Invaders, Pacman, Gin Rummy, Sonic the Hedgehog, and other blockbusters.
Stay at Home
Even though we are forced to stay inside almost 24/7, it doesn't mean we can’t socialize. Use our handpicked selection and stay in touch with whomever you need. So, what is your personal #1 app for group calls? Let us know in the comments!