6 free video call apps that can keep you connected during the pandemic

Mar 17 2020, 4:23 pm

With more isolating measures being announced by the day to curb the spread of COVID-19, now is the time to beef up your online communication in the face of physical isolation.

Text chats are effective and quick, but there is a limit to how long someone can go without talking to or seeing another person. Luckily, there are great options for online video and voice calls so you don’t run up those phone bills.

Here are six free video and voice call apps available online — and how to get them.

Discord

What it is: A text, voice, and video call application originally designed for use by gamers.
Is it free? Yes
How do I get it? Downloads are available for Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and Linux.

Features: 

  • Video chat with up to 10 people at a time; voice chat with up to 500
  • Can switch between group and private channels easily
  • Screen-sharing can be enabled for group movie nights or games

Skype

What it is: A text, voice, and video call application developed by Microsoft
Is it free? Yes
How do I get it? Downloads are available for Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and Linux.

Features:

  • Video and voice chat with up to 50 people at a time
  • Can be downloaded to tablets, Xbox, and Alexa devices

Google Duo

What it is: A voice and video call application developed by Google
Is it free? Yes
How do I get it? Downloads are available for web browsers, Android, and iOS.

Features:

  • Video and voice chat up to eight people at a time
  • Can be downloaded to tablets and Google Nest Hub Max devices
  • Shows a video preview of who’s calling you

Facebook Messenger

What it is: A text, voice, and video call application developed by Facebook
Is it free? Yes, but you must have a Facebook account
How do I get it? Downloads are available for Android and iOS; browser app does not require a download

Features:

  • Voice chat up to 50 people at a time; video will only show up to six people at a time, otherwise, the dominant speaker’s camera feed will be shown
  • Free with a Facebook account
  • Features GIFs, stickers and filters for video calls on some platforms

Whatsapp

What it is: A text, voice, and video call application
Is it free? Yes
How do I get it? Downloads are available for Android and iOS; a browser app is available for Windows and Mac users.

Features:

  • Video chat up to four people at a time; voice messages, pictures, and texts can be shared with up to 256 people.
  • Works on WiFi, so you can call people across the country with it (some data charges may apply-check with your provider)

Zoom

What it is: A text, voice, and video call application
Is it free? Yes, but there are some limits to the free version
How do I get it? Downloads are available for browsers after signing up with the service

Features:

  • Video chat up to 100 people at a time; there is a limit of 40 minutes for the free version, while the lowest tier paid version will let you host a meeting for up to 24 hours for $20/month
  • Has screen-sharing capabilities, unlimited one on one video calling, and integration of applications like Google Calendar, Slack workspace messaging, Evernote, Twitter, and Youtube