10 Apps for Video Chats That Aren't Zoom
The video chat app Zoom came to fame with the coronavirus—and infamy with the problem of Zoombombing. So, let's look at some awesome alternatives for making free video calls.
Houseparty for Casual Hangouts
With built-in games, Houseparty began as an app for gamers and geared toward younger users, but its popularity has grown with users of all ages who love its use beyond games. And while playing games with friends is still one of its major features, video chatting stands well enough on its own. Connect to your Facebook contacts to add friends in a group chat, perhaps playing some of Houseparty's group party games to keep things light.
WhatsApp to Keep Things Private
After the first days of SMS, many of us really boarded the texting train with WhatsApp. And it's still great for texting. But the use of its video chatting has become just as widespread, in part popular due to the privacy of end-to-end encryption. With Web.Whatsapp.com you can text using your computer and use video with a workaround. Go to the menu (the three dots near your profile pic) and click "Create a room." That will link you to your Facebook video messaging, allowing you to connect to your WhatsApp contacts with a link.
Google Duo Instead of Google Meet
Replacing Google Hangouts, Google Meet is a better-known app for video chatting than Google Duo. But the latter is a great choice if you're not doing any heavy videoconferencing. While you can add up to 12 participants on a call with Google Duo, as its name suggests this basic consumer app is best for one-on-one chats. And it's got some nice features like end-to-end encryption, web-browser compatibility, and video voicemails.
Cisco Webex for Serious Business
If the name sounds seriously Old School that's because it is: Webex videoconferencing has been with us since the 90s. The Cisco part came in the 2000s. With the ability to hold calls with up to 100 participants, Cisco Webex is geared toward business meetings. Which you can record. You have to pay to get unlimited use, but the free version offers meetings of up to 50 minutes.
Jitsi Meet for Quick Web Chats
As an open-source application, Jitsi is less known than many other video chat apps. But its open-source standing is one of its greatest strengths, working on just about any platform there is, with no need to create an account to host meetings in rooms with password protection. While you can use it for videoconferencing, it's best for simple calls using your web browser.
Facebook Rooms for Easy Group Chats
As with all things Facebook, there are naysayers out there who gripe about privacy concerns. It's not unfounded; Facebook's business model is all about data mining. Still, the Facebook Messenger Rooms app has some serious strengths. You can use the app on your phone or on a PC, and you don't need a Facebook account to join a video call with a group—or even download an app if you're using the web version.
Slack for App Integration
Slack is mostly an app for texting. The free version does allow for one-on-one video chats, but if you want more, like hosting group meetings, you'll have to step up to the paid version. However, Slack more than makes up for its videoconferencing weaknesses with its ability to integrate with more than 1,500 other apps, including Google Drive and Outlook.
StarLeaf Beyond Big Business
Never heard of StarLeaf? You're not alone, though lots of big businesses have been using StarLeaf to do their videoconferencing for years. For serious business use, you'll have to get the paid version. But the free version allows you to host meetings with up to 20 people for up to 46 minutes. StarLeaf is a great quick-and-easy option for video calls and messaging.
Whereby Keeps Things Simple
No downloads or logins needed—Whereby offers group video chats via web browsers and mobile devices with your own personalized URL. The free version is limited to four people, but with some handy features such as a chat function, screen sharing, YouTube integration, the ability to lock meeting rooms, and to mute and toss out any unpleasant participants.
Viber Grows Past Phone Calls
Long used by digital nomads as an app to call cellphones and landlines via WiFi from anywhere in the world, Viber is still great for making phone calls. But the app has made big strides with its video messenger feature, with end-to-end encryption and the ability to have hidden chats, all with a simple design that's highly intuitive. While it may not be a household name in the United States, Viber is big internationally with over 250 million worldwide users.
You may go with the Houseparty app for fun or stay true to WhatsApp video calls. Whichever you choose, know that alternatives to Zoom are waiting to host your video calls.
Written by William McCleary for Knockaround.