The holidays are approaching and thanks to technology, distance is no longer a barrier to being together. With high-quality video chat features on many mobile devices and computers, you can gather with family and friends to enjoy meaningful connections over the dinner table this Thanksgiving and for other upcoming holidays. All you need is a device, cellular and/or WiFi connections, and the right video chat app for your needs. Just in time for the holidays, the Loveland Pulse team has rounded up details on six video chat apps for you to consider for your holiday celebrations this year.
Free and paid options available | 100 max participants on free account
Zoom is arguably one of the most popular video chat apps in use right now. If you work or learn from home, chances are you are familiar with this tool and already have a free or paid account. The interface is pretty simple. You can log in through a web browser, desktop application, or through a mobile app. And this Thanksgiving, you are in luck. Free accounts usually have a 40-minute limit, but Zoom is lifting that limit from midnight ET Nov. 26 through 6 a.m. ET Nov. 27 so your virtual family gatherings don’t get cut short.
Free video chats, paid calls | 50 max participants
Skype is one of the oldest video chat tools available and is known for its ease of use across platforms. Download the mobile app on any mobile phone, or download it to your Mac or PC. Tip: Here is a step by step guide from DigitalTrends.com on how to install and use.
Free video chats, emoji, and effects included | 32 max participants
Many Apple users are familiar with the FaceTime app and love it for its two-camera capabilities, effects, and ease of use. It is easy, but it only works with other Apple iOS users, so be sure to plan ahead. Use it on your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and on a Mac to connect to other uses with an iOS device.
Free video chats, emoji, and effects included | 50 max participants
Facebook Messenger Rooms are a great, easy tool to connect with people on and off of Facebook. You just create a Messenger Room on Facebook, invite your friends/ family by sharing an easy link, and start chatting. This also works for Instagram, WhatsApp, and Portal devices. Similar to Facetime, there are built-in effects and emojis to use.
Free to use for 1 hour | 100 max participants
If you are familiar with Google’s Suite of products like Gmail, Google Drive, etc. then Google Meet is an easy option as you need a Google account to sign up. Similar to Zoom, you can use a web browser or download the mobile app for your video or voice calls.
Free to use | 8 max participants
*Update: Houseparty was discontinued in October 2021.
Houseparty is a face-to-face social network available to use through Apple’s iOS, Android mobile phones, and Chrome. This app limits the participants to eight people but also allows participants to play group games together while using the app. If you want to enhance your virtual gathering, this is an option.
This list is not exhaustive, of course – there are many ways you can connect with friends and family online. We recommend picking the video chat tool that works best for you and your family. Do you have others you like? Let us know! We want to help Loveland residents better connect through technology when they need it most.