Read on for our highlights of the best video chat apps on a social apps platforms. Zoom comes in free and paid tiers.

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We use cookies and other tracking technologies to improve your browsing experience on our site, show personalized content and targeted , analyze site traffic, and understand where our audiences come from. To learn more or opt-out, read our Cookie Policy. If you buy something from a Verge link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement. Zoom continues to top the list of videoconferencing apps, but there are a bunch of applications out there that will allow you to meet others online for free. While most of these already have free versions, some are offering access to additional features for those who are currently working from home or who want to check up on friends and relatives online. There are a of apps we have not included, such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and FaceTime, that allow you to do video chats.

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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 help bridge the gap when physical interaction isn't possible. 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.

About

Zoom Meetings is a wildly popular videoconferencing solution that was ly mainly known by those who frequent board rooms and business-huddle rooms. Thanks to the social distancing that has become the norm during the coronavirus COVID pandemic, Zoom has entered the national consciousness, both as a tool for working from home and for communicating with friends and family. With all the prohibitions against in-person gatherings, most vedeo chat and education has moved online, and as a consequence Zoom's users have has grown from about 10 million daily to over million, according to the company's blog.

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A free version lets any group create video rooms for people to socialize in. People are using it to stay in touch with families, hold book club meetings, and even host virtual parties. But it hasn't been all good news for Zoom: The service has been criticized for privacy and security issues, and the term zoom bombing —when unwanted interlopers interrupt a group video session—has entered the lexicon. This has vedeo chat been a problem for schools, some of which have actually banned Zoom. Zoom has been working hard to fix these issues, but if you've been put off by these missteps—or you just prefer another service for your personal video chatting, there are plenty of excellent choices vedeo chat there, as you'll see below.

PCMag has reviewed those extensively elsewhere. While several of those are currently offering expanded free service during the current stay-at-home health crisis, here we're concerned with personal group video. Zoom lets free users conduct video meetings of up to participants with up to 49 visible at once for a maximum of 40 minutes.

Organizers can send a meeting link over messaging,or social network posts so that participants can easily. Some of the services below have vedeo chat participant limits, but most don't cut your group off after a specified time. All the services included below have free s for the public to use, but they vary greatly in functionality.

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Read on for the details on each—how many participants they allow, the platforms they work on, and their special features or requirements. The social network of record just launched a Mac desktop version of its billion-user-plus popular chatting app vedeo chat updated its Windows store app with goodies like dark mode and a Live Tile in Windows, and group video calling.

With Messenger, you can continue text chatting, spice up your chat with stickers, and apply filters that adorn your face.

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Messenger works on all major platforms—Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, and web—along with the company's own device dedicated largely vedeo chat video calling via Messenger, Facebook Portal. There's a kid-specific version, Messenger Kidswhich also offers group video, but with parental controls like blocking and monitoring.

You can't simply invite participants by sending a link, however; you need to add them individually and they need an. On the plus side, you can create persistent groups for easy meeting starting.

The best video chat apps you can download today

Up to 50 people can a group call, but only six of them can be seen at a time. You don't need participants' address or phonebut you can invite with those as well as using Facebook usernames. Facetime is a terrific service with great image quality, but it only works if everyone in your chat group is using an Apple device. Group video came to FaceTime inand quickly met with a privacy scare that has since vedeo chat plugged up. Unlike Zoom and the other services here, you can't simply send prospective attendees a link to your group video call; you have to add them with their phone or Apple ID.

FaceTime allows up to 32 participants in a group video chat. Only four other participants besides yourself vedeo chat show on-screen at a time, but those talking get larger images in the interface.

Zoom alternatives: best free services for group video chatting during the pandemic

FaceTime vedeo chat with iMessage, so you can start a video with a text chat message. You can add text, stickers, or Animoji during group video chats. For more, read Ready to Video Chat? How to Group FaceTime. The search ad giant has separated its business and personal video calling services, with the former becoming Google Meet and the latter remaining as Hangouts.

Connect with the important people in your life

Google's consumer video chat service allows up to 25 participants, vedeo chat only 10 can appear on-screen at once. You need a Google normally in the form of a Gmailand can invite participants via or by sending or posting a public link. During a call, you can continue text messaging and share your screen.

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It's a very simple, clear vedeo chat, though the business-targeted G Suite Meet product offers more features, and Google is increasing the video limit to participants for Basic G Suite subscribers through September. Risen from the ashes of failed Twitter Periscope competitor MeerkatHouseparty is a venture-capital success story, having been gobbled up by Epic games, maker of Fortnight and Gears of War. Unsurprisingly, the "face to face social network" lets you play games while connected with up to seven other users. It vedeo chat your group whenever you open the app. The app's maker, Life on Air, has denied recent accusations that Houseparty was hackedleaking users' Netflix, Spotify, and bank details.

Optionally, you can connect your Facebook contacts to add them to your Houseparty calls. You can also create a link to add people to your party, or search for any user on the service and send a request for them to accept your add. Once your chat room is vedeo chat, you can lock it to prevent anyone else from ing. Houseparty's Pass a Note feature can you guess the app's target demographic from that? Among the casual party games available, the highest profile is He Up, since it was promoted by Ellen DeGeneres, thanks to a partnership with the comedian's Ellen Digital Network.

The software giant's relatively recent entry in videoconferencing, started as a business-only solution, but now it's free and available to the public at large.

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Microsoft Teams offers nifty features like background blur also available in Zoom and AI-powered noise suppression, so that one participant's rattling bag of chips doesn't upstage what vedeo chat are trying to say. Teams will soon become part of the Vedeo chat Personal and Family subscriptions, which also include Office apps and Parental safety features.

As with Zoom, Teams primarily targets business and educational customers, but the free which requires a Microsoftsuch as an Outlook. For friends and family use, you'll be directed to Skype see next alternativethough there's no verification required. That said, Teams includes a lot of Slack-like business tools, such as file sharing, wiki creation, and a host of third-party business integrations—even, ironically, Zoom.

Skype: Best for Lo of Features and Platforms. Skype has been around longer than any other video chat service in this roundup and has evolved a feature-packed but refined interface. The now-Microsoft-owned though still Luxembourg based service works on more platforms than most, and it allows free group video rooms with up to 50 participants. You can create a Skype video chat room without a Microsoftvedeo chat if you do have one, you'll be able to save your conversation history and contacts.

The new Skype Meet Now feature lets anyone start an ad hoc video conference.

Best video chat apps in

You can start or participate either in a web browser or in the Skype app. Like Hangouts, Skype lets you continue text chatting, along with stickers, file sharing, and desktop sharing. In addition, you can create polls, send money, and even share Spotify tracks. If you haven't used Skype in a while, you may be surprised at how vedeo chat it's come.

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Blizz comes from the well-regarded TeamViewer remote support company. The product will become TeamViewer Meetings in the future. The service uses a simple, friendly, and capable interface. Blizz offers service that's "free for basic vedeo chat and business meetings" for up to five participants.

Educational institutions can get s supporting up to 50 participants. Paid s allow up to participants and include recording meetings and support.

The best alternatives to skype: 14 free applications for video calls

The free service includes chat and screen sharing as well as HD video. You can even schedule meetings and import Outlook contacts. One of the best aspects of Blizz is that there's no time limit, unlike the free version of Zoom.

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The massively popular texting and calling app allows group video chats of up to four participants. Sure, that's a far cry from Zoom's limit ofbut maybe it vedeo chat your needs, and it doesn't have Zoom's minute time limit for free group calls. Note that you can't access it without a mobile phone, and the desktop apps don't support video calling.

Nor is there anything in the way of emoji or text chatting during group video calls. In a test group call, the image quality on my iPhone X was excellent, with one participant saying she looked better in it than she does in FaceTime sessions. Though WhatsApp allows group chats with up to participants, group video is limited to just four. A big plus for privacy fans: WhatsApp video calls are end-to-end encrypted, according to the company's FAQ. As an added vedeo chat WhatsApp has added a Coronavirus hub to provide reliable information on the pandemic. Epyc: Best for Free Participants, Recording.

Your data. your experience.

The free Epyc allows up to a generous participants, but meetings are limited to one hour. Meetings can be password-protected and encrypted. You can even record your group session as long as the resulting video file takes up 1GB or less of storage. You can start a meeting instantly from the web, without even vedeo chat up an. The service also offers blurred backgrounds and virtual backgrounds. A final unique feature is its 3D Vision, which lets you us AR annotation with a mobile phone's camera.

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This newsletter may contain advertising, deals, or affiliate links. Subscribing to a newsletter indicates your consent to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. You may unsubscribe from the newsletters at any time. Michael Muchmore is PCMag's lead analyst for software and web applications. A native New Yorker, he has at various times headed up coverage of web development, enterprise software, and display technologies. Michael cowrote one of the first overviews of web services for vedeo chat general audience. Before that he worked on PC Magazine 's Solutions section, which covered programming techniques vedeo chat well as tips on using popular office software.

He ly covered services and software for ExtremeTech.

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