Video calling apps are hard to do right. The unreliability of Skype after Microsoft acquired it and made it non-P2P tells the story. Just the act of sending video and audio over the internet takes a lot of bandwidth. Which is why you always experience call drops, lag, and sometimes complete and utter distortion.
Is there anything reliable out there? Something that’s easy to use that works most of the time? Well yes – here are 5 such cross-platform apps.
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1. Google Hangouts
This is the obvious one. Hangouts works on desktop, web, Android, iOS, and more. It’s backed by Google’s cloud power and more often than not, it just works. Even when you’re in a five way video chat that’s broadcasted live.
Rounds is the new video calling kid on the block. And he’s a pretty popular kid. Using the Rounds app on your iPhone or Android phone, you can talk to 12 people at once. The quality is going to be nowhere near as good as Hangouts or Skype, but hey, a 12 person chat on your iPhone that doesn’t break down in the middle of a conversation? I’ll take it.
FaceTime gets a bad rep but if you’re using a relatively fast internet connection (emphasis on relatively fast) FaceTime between your iOS and Mac devices should not be a problem. FaceTime comes pre-installed with every iOS device so you don’t even have to go and download anything. Extra points for simplicity!
Yes, the app that started the sexting phenomenon and turned into the youthful selfie phenomenon is also pretty good at video calls. But here’s the catch: the quality is not so good. It’s grainy and kind of like looking at a 3gp video from 2006.
But I like Snapchat for two reasons: It’s dead simple to use. When the contact you want to chat with is also online, all you do is hold the circle icon and your video will be broadcasted to them. When they do the same you’re in a video chat! Switching from the front to back facing camera is as simple as dragging your pressed finger to the top of the screen.
And secondly, as this is Snapchat, the video is never stored and as soon as you lift up your finger, it’s deleted.
5. Skype Qik
Skype, realizing just how tough the video calling space is getting, has decided to come up with a simple video messaging app. It basically takes the video calling section from Snapchat and adds more features to it. Really, that’s all there is. The app doesn’t do text or calls, just video messages.
Qik is not strictly a video calling app, it’s a video messaging app. You have 42 seconds to record a video message (a nod to The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy) and send it off quickly to your favorite contacts.
Qik messages are deleted after 2 weeks and there’s no way to save them. It’s also possible to delete a video from a group chat after you’ve sent it.
Snapchat is surprisingly the simplest mobile video solution.
Qik is the newest entry that has a lot of potential. The app’s implementation of video messages is certainly appealing.
So now it’s your turn. Let us know your favorite way of video calling from your mobile device in the comments below.