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Best video chat apps 2021: Features to consider

Jun 23, 2022
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The rise of remote work has made one fact glaringly clear: If you work from home , you need a reliable, affordable, and user-friendly video chat app. 

Video chat apps are an excellent form of communication, whether it's used for a job interview, a work meeting, or simply a hangout with friends. Poor connections, subpar audio, and frozen video, however, can all wreak havoc on your video calls. It makes finding the best video chat app challenging.

Here are our picks for the best video chat apps in 2021. 

Discord

Best for gamers

discord-logo-2021.jpg

Discord

Compatibility

Android, iOS, Linux, Windows

Price

Basic: Free

Upgraded: $9.99/mo. or $99.99/yr.

At a glance

Founded in 2015, Discord boasts 150 million active users each month spread across 19 million active servers. The app holds four billion server conversation minutes each day. One reason is its wide availability, servicing 11 countries including Brazil, India, Russia, South Africa, and South Korea. It is especially popular with college students, and it's used by over 200 colleges and universities. 

Discord offers a combination of communication services, including text and video chat. It has convenient features like screen-sharing and a way to see who in your network is available to chat in real-time. If you are looking for topic-specific resources, Discord organizes them neatly into a database, keeping everything you need readily available with just a touch of a button. With additional community management, you can moderate your space by assigning members specific roles or creating private channels just for leadership. 

Ever reliable, Discord also has excellent transparency, sharing real-time stats for all countries and third parties Cloudfare and Tax Calculation Service. When we checked, Discord's servers showed the following: 

  • API: 99.5% uptime

  • Media Proxy: 100% uptime

  • Push Notifications:  100% uptime

  • Search: 100% uptime

Pros

Cons

  • Very reliable servers with real-time reporting

  • Individual and team tools

  • Topic-specific channels and resources

  • Paid plan required for extra features

  • Set up can be tricky

  • Busy interface can be difficult to navigate

Facebook Messenger

Best for social media enthusiasts

messenger-logo-2021.png

Facebook

Compatibility

Facebook, Android, Instagram, iOS, Oculus, Portal, WhatsApp

Price

Free

At a glance

Facebook is the go-to social media app for millions of users across the globe, so its Messenger feature has become a regular way for users to interact with family, friends, and their local communities. Messenger offers text, voice, and video chat, plus the option to create or join exclusive Messenger Rooms. These Rooms offer a private space to have conversations, collaborate on projects, and hang out with friends. To personalize your experience, you can choose from fun filters and effects to bring some excitement to your chats. If you have guests to invite, you can share a link to your Messenger Room that allows them to join without a Messenger account. 

You do not need a Facebook account to use Messenger; you just need to sign up for a free Facebook Messenger account.

Pros

Cons

  • Easy social media integration

  • Free international calling

  • Customer service chatbot for business 

  • Well-publicized privacy concerns

  • Notifications can be distracting

  • Desktop app limits users in chat 

Google Meet

Best for Google devotees

google-meet-2021.jpg

Google

Compatibility

Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, Windows

Price

There are three plans available for Google Meet, depending on your specific needs.

At a glance

With enhanced security measures, such as encrypted video conversations, Google Meet uses the same security protocols as Gmail and other Google services. It also benefits from Google's impressive reputation, attracting clients like Airbus, BBVA, Salesforce, Whirlpool, and even Twitter. 

For the free account, Google Meet offers up to 100 guests with 60 free minutes, but you will need to upgrade your account if you want to take advantage of the additional features. That gives you access to meetings with guest lists of up to 250 people, plus screen-sharing capabilities to simplify presentations. It also has the capability of broadcasting live streams to up to 100,000 viewers, making it perfect for businesses and schools that offer frequent webinars. Google Meet offers the option of live captions through speech recognition technology with AI enhancements for enhanced clarity. 

Guests have the option to use Google Nest Hub Max to join a meeting, or they can access the audio-only format using a convenient dial-in number offered in the invitation.

Pros

Cons

  • Works easily with Google Suite

  • Available closed captioning

  • Unlimited meetings

  • Must have Gmail for video chat

  • Free plan limits meeting time

  • Must upgrade for more participants

GoToMeeting

Best for confidential meetings

gotomeeting-2021.png

GoToMeeting

Compatibility

iOS, Android, Windows

Price

GoToMeeting offers several plans that you can choose from based on your specific needs. 

At a glance

Available in over 190 countries, video chat app GoToMeeting hosts over 80 million meetings each year. It boasts features like HD video and screen sharing with additional keyboard and mouse sharing. Up to 250 people can join meetings, and GoToMeeting will prepare reports and analytics afterward to help you improve before the next one. It also offers unlimited cloud recording and an available transcription service. 

GoToMeeting integrates with LogMeIn for its communication and collaboration tools, giving account owners the option to assign roles and restrict access. Hosts have peace of mind with 99.95% service uptime and enhanced security measures with encrypted meetings. There is no reason to worry about accessibility because users do not need to download software to join a meeting. Commuter mode allows you to join meetings from the road due to its enhanced audio and background noise suppression that features VoIP and Toll. 

Pros

Cons

  • 99.95% service uptime

  • Encrypted meetings

  • No account necessary 

  • Minimal integrations

  • Some lagging connection issues

  • Long-distance calls subject to restrictions

Microsoft Teams

Best for corporate groups

microsoft-teams-2021.png

Microsoft

Compatibility

Android, iOS, Windows

Price 

Microsoft Teams is available in a free version for individual use with the option for paid personal and business plans.

At a glance

Microsoft Teams is known as one of the best video conferencing apps for both businesses and schools, and it has over 250 million users. You still have text, voice, and video chat, but it goes one step further to offer advanced tools that encourage collaboration, file-sharing, and integrations with popular apps. Cloud storage keeps all of your information safe and easily organized.

In addition to its business tools, Microsoft Teams has tools for personal and home use. Lounge mode is available for more casual hangouts; you can join family and friends at a virtual cafe. You can also have fun and add a splash of personalization with features like emojis, memes, and GIFs. Under the free account, you can meet for up to 60 minutes.

NOTE: In light of COVID-19, Microsoft Teams has temporarily extended meeting times to 30 hours each. 

You can either use Microsoft Teams as part of Microsoft 365, or you can create a free Teams account. There's also an option to invite people without a Teams account to join Microsoft Teams video chats.  

Pros

Cons

  • Integrates with Microsoft Office

  • Includes presentation mode

  • Cloud transcription storage

  • Limited minutes with free plan 

  • Better suited toward teams

  • High system requirements

Skype

Best for families

skype-logo-only-2021.png

Skype

Compatibility

Alexa, Android, iOS, Linux, Windows, Xbox

Price

When you use the Skype-to-Skype calling feature, calls are free. You will need a subscription, however, if you want to call a mobile phone or landline. Skype offers several plans based on where in the world you want to call, and they all have a free one-month trial.

At a glance

Skype has long been the go-to for video chat, and it still continues to improve upon its model. It recently revamped its messaging, featuring improved speed and reliability with a more modern interface. It's available as an app and as a fully-powered browser version.

Skype offers features like call recording, live subtitles, and end-to-end encryption to secure your conversations. If you need to find media you shared, there is a helpful Media Gallery with a search function for your previous conversations. Skype assigns you a personal invitation link that will never expire, making it significantly easier to meet with the same people over and over. 

It's free to call other Skype users, with calls available for up to 24 hours each. However, rates will apply when calling landlines or mobile numbers. You can also add a local phone number in your choice of area code or country, so you can get your calls on Skype. 

Pros

Cons

  • Multiple video and text chat options

  • Easily connect with Skype community

  • QA session capability

  • Long-distance and international calls extra

  • Calls can blur and drop

  • Technical glitches fairly common

WhatsApp

Best for international communication

whatsapp-logo-2021.jpg

WhatsApp

Compatibility

Android, iOS, Mac, Windows

Price

Free

At a glance

WhatsApp has made a name for itself in the international arena with its worldwide calling and video chat. Today, it has more than two million users across more than 180 countries. 

Created as an SMS alternative, WhatsApp far exceeds the capabilities of the standard text messaging service. It offers enormous chats with up to 256 people, which is far more than the average competitor. Security concerns are soothed by the built-in end-to-end encryption for secure messaging and video chats. If you prefer to move your data to your personal computer or phone, WhatsApp makes it easy to make transfers with its sync option, allowing PDFs, slideshows, and spreadsheets up to 100 MB. A convenient extra feature is the optional Disappearing Messages mode that will automatically delete messages after your choice of either 24 hours, 7 days, or 90 days.

Also available is WhatsApp Business, which is free to download and offers an excellent forum to advertise your products. It integrates with your Facebook storefront for easy maintenance, and you have the option to create an exclusive WhatsApp QR code for customer and staff communication. Plus, added tools make it easy to respond to customers instantly and sort previous messages.

WhatsApp is free when you message family and friends, even for international calls. It is also free for businesses. 

Pros

Cons

  • User-friendly format

  • Live location tracking

  • End-to-end encryption

  • No secret messaging

  • Limited file sizes for sharing

  • Not available in all countries

How did we choose these products?

Video chat apps pop up all the time, but they do not always deliver the reliability, performance, and consistency users need. When choosing the best video chat apps, we considered these factors:

  • Cost: While some video chat apps are free, others may require a paid plan or charge on a per-minute basis. 

  • Compatibility: We focused on video chat apps that work with most popular devices.

  • Features: User favorites, like fun GIFs, automatic syncing, and closed captioning, helped us narrow down the options.

  • Security: Private information is exchanged over these apps, so we took security protocols, such as end-to-end encryption, into consideration.

Which video chat app is the right one for you?

It can be hard to differentiate between all of the video chat apps available, so consider our expert recommendations to help you decide. You should also look at the factors listed above and decide which ones are important to you.

What is a video chat app?

A video chat app is an internet-based service that offers text messaging and video chatting options, either in one-on-one or group formats.

Why should I use a video chat app?

A video chat app helps you spend face-to-face time with your loved ones. Many companies also use video chat apps for employee interviews and meetings, while schools use them for webinars and lectures.

What is the best video chat app?

The best video chat app depends on your specific needs. For example, if you have a lot of family abroad, it's important to find a video chat app with free or cheap international calls. This list of 2021's best video chat apps is a great place to start.

Are there alternatives worth considering?

In our search for the best video chat apps, we came across several options that may also be worth your consideration.

  • Dialpad Meetings : Analytics-based video chat

  • Google Duo : One-on-one video chat

  • Houseparty : Social video chat

  • Slack : Solid chat capabilities alongside video chat

  • Snapchat : Gen Z video chat

  • WebChat : One-on-one collaborating video chat

  • Zoom : Classic video chat

For more tools to equip your home or office, consider our picks for the best video conferencing apps, best smart displays, and the best webcams!

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