Best group video call apps for around-the-world catch-ups & conferences
Amid the Covid-19 global pandemic, it’s understandable that restrictions are in full force
to help banish this pesky virus once and for all.
We’ve had to bid farewell to catch-ups by the office water cooler, wave goodbye to weekend jaunts with far-flung family members and (most importantly) say hasta la vista to the local pub.
The almighty video call comes to the rescue. Gone are the days of choosing between the internet or the landline; this innovative, fast-paced technology means that keeping up with companions worldwide is a breeze. We’ve chosen the best group video call apps for conferences, chit chats and everything in between, and provided some helpful tips for using them if you’re a self-confessed technophobe!
Best video call app for small group video calls and international chats
Whatsapp’s platform of wonders is easily recognised as one of the best for messaging, period. So, when the app blessed Android 4.1+ users with a long-craved-for video calling feature, it’s no surprise that over two billion users started utilising the far reach of this innovative technology to chin-wag with loved ones across the globe.
With this free calling platform offering video and voice calls, another bonus is that it won’t devour your monthly phone minutes either; simply make sure you have a strong internet connection if you’re using Wi-Fi or your phone’s data plan, and et voila!
How to video call on Whatsapp
For individual video calls, open the chat with the contact that you wish to ring and click the video recorder icon (on the left-hand side of the phone icon) at the top of the screen.
To receive an incoming call, you’ll notice an incoming WHATSAPP VIDEO CALL screen; here, you can swipe up on the icon of your choice to accept (blue video recorder), decline (red phone) or decline the call but send a quick message (white letter icon).
You’re spoilt for choice with ways to initiate a group call too:
- From an existing group chat
- For groups with four our less participants, simply tap the video recorder icon at the top of the screen and your call will start straight away.
- For larger groups with five or more people, tap the group call icon (grey phone with a plus) and choose up to eight contacts before clicking the video icon.
- From a single-person chat
- Choose a chat with someone you wish to group call and tap the video call icon. Once answered, click the Add Participant button at the top of the call screen and select another contact to be added in.
- From the calls tab
- From the listed chat screen, swipe left twice or tap to move to the CALLS tab. Tap the green phone icon at the bottom right of your screen and choose New group call – then you can choose which contacts you want to group video call with before confirming with the video recorder icon.
*You can also switch your video on and off as you please once on a call by tapping the video icon again until it turns off. The more you know!
Best group video call app for family fun and Facebook devotees
A separate app to Facebook, Messenger is a messaging platform that allows you to message, call and video chat with up to 50 Facebook friends. Whether you’re a social media mogul or not totally tech-savvy, all you need is a Facebook account and the latest version of the Messenger iOS, Android or desktop app downloaded to get conversations flowing.
Finding your friends is a breeze by using names or phone numbers, and with (it seems) no cross-device or operating system limitations, you can enjoy connecting with pals worldwide.
How to Facebook Messenger video call
- To use Facebook’s video-calling feature, first ensure that all participants have the Messenger app installed or can access the desktop version through a browser (messenger.com).
- Open the conversation with the person or group you want to call from your Android, iOS or desktop app/browser and click the blue video icon at the top right corner of the screen.
- The call will start with the camera in selfie mode for mobiles, but you can easily change this by clicking the camera flip icon at the top right of your screen. You can also cut the video feed and restrict to an audio call by tapping the video icon or vice versa by tapping the microphone icon.
- Experiment with video effects and fun filters by following the screen prompt above the white smiley face icon.
Best group video chat app for cross-device calling
Forget cross-device and contact confusion, Skype’s video-calling expertise need close-to-no introduction. Renowned for being one of the go-to apps for cross-device calling, communication has never been so sleek across Android and iOS mobile devices, tablets, desktop, XBox One and even your household Alexa.
Knowing how to video call on Skype – and get the most out of it – isn’t short of advanced either, with a host of futuristic features helping this software to become ahead of the curve. If free group chats for up to 50 people weren’t enough to tickle your technology fancy, you can enjoy this professional platform in all its glory with group screen sharing, live subtitles, call recording, smart messaging and international calls (at low rates) to name a few.
How to Skype group video call
- Start by ensuring you have added your call companions to your contact list by their phone number, name or email address.
- Select the calls list tab (blue phone icon) and click the New Call button.
- Pick the contacts you wish to call and confirm with the Call button, before choosing between the video and audio or audio-only options (these can be easily changed though once you’re on a call).
Best app for video conferences and workplace catch-ups
Perhaps the app of the moment, Zoom has battled its way among other longstanding video-call titans – but, what makes this app appear as a rising supreme?
A cloud-based video conferencing service available as an app, extension or plugin for Windows, Android and iOS, Zoom combines a unique tiled view with voice activation so you can see up to 49 people on the screen at one time and see who’s speaking with a magnified tile.
Don’t worry if you have more than 49 friends or colleagues though – this free app gives you a whopping 100-user limit in their free plan, making it especially popular for work meetings, school webinars and working-from-home communication (just don’t get caught out by their 40-minute time limit for three or more users; an upgrade to Zoom Pro will unlock a 24-hour meeting cap.)
This powerful new option in the competitive video collab space holds other special features in its back pocket too. Featuring video or audio-only options, meeting recording, quality screen sharing and even breakout rooms and customisable backgrounds, it’s hard to deny that Zoom is a strong choice.
How to set up a Zoom call
To use Zoom, you’ll have to sign in using a Zoom account (easily created if you don’t have one) on desktop or the app on your chosen device.
- Look to the top right of the page to choose between scheduling a meeting, joining with an ID or personal link, or hosting with video on, off or simply screen sharing.
- You can also head over to the Meetings tab on the left-hand side under the PERSONAL heading where you can schedule or see upcoming meetings.
- Once a call has started, the bottom grey bar shows icons to invite and manage participants on the call.
- Choose the Invite button to send a default email invitation or copy the URL to share on other platforms.
- You can customise settings and choose for callers to wait in the lobby or be muted by choosing the Manage Participants button.
- You’ll also find other icons where you can; stop/start audio or video, screen share, open the message chat, record the meeting, show an on-screen reaction or end the meeting.
On the mobile app
- Once logged into the app, notice the Meet & Chat icon. The various buttons at the top allow you to start an instant meeting, join, schedule or screen share.
- Similar to desktop, swipe to the Meetings tab on the bottom bar to find your personal meeting ID, see upcoming meets, start a new one or send invites.
- Invite people by tapping Participants and tapping Invite on the bottom left where you can invite contacts, share via email or messaging platforms or copy the invite.
- Choose to Add Contacts on the Meet & Chat homescreen or the Contacts tab where you can add email address or connect your phone contacts.
- Once in a call, follow the same steps as desktop to mute, stop video or screen share. Tap the More button to react, disconnect audio, chat or open meeting settings.
- You’ll be able to end the call at the top right of the screen for just you or all users, as well as flip to the rear camera with the arrowed camera icon on the top left.
We hope our run-down of the best video call apps and top tips on how to use them has spurred you on to take the plunge into the virtual realm and get chatting with your chums. Ensure you stay stylish on screen with our men’s and women’s clothing to suit every video call dress code.