A girl with brown hair sitting on her bed with an open laptop using a video chat app.

Make Social Distancing Easier With These 5 Video Chat Apps

What Is the Best Video Chat App?

Social distancing is a reality we have to live with as the world tries to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing may mean not being able to have a chat with a friend down the street and this can fray people’s nerves. However, with modern technology, people can still keep up a modicum of social interaction through video chat apps. So, what are video chat apps and what is the best video chat app?

What Are Video Chat Apps?

Video chat apps are a type of software that can bring the experience of a social gathering or business meetings to life. These apps have capabilities for text, audio and video communication on simple, easy-to-use interfaces. Most either come free or include a free version alongside the subscription model.

Prominent among these apps on the market today are Google Duo, Zoom, FaceTime, Skype and Facebook Messenger. Let’s cover these in detail.

How to Choose the Right App

Most video chat apps are free to use or come with a free tier version that anyone can download at no cost. However, the different software apps have multiple features that are only suitable for certain users. Therefore, it is important to understand what you need the app for and choose one that suits your purpose for ease of use.

For simple video chats with friends and family on your smartphones, Google Duo Facebook Messenger, or FaceTime will suffice. Also, you do not need to pay, as the free versions have quality features.

For multiple device use including tablets, computers and phones, apps like Skype, Zoom, or Discord will give you a better experience. This second category will also go a step further to include business and conference video calls, both local and international.

Why Are Video Chat Apps Beneficial?

In tough times such as these with the present danger of COVID-19, family members need each other’s support. Seeing a loved one’s face can boost your morale and give you the strength to face the current social distancing situation. Video chat apps have brought this relief to family members kept apart due to this situation.

People can now organize family get-togethers online via these chat apps and interact as though they were in the same room. Nothing beats the visual aspect of communication. It brings the human element and reality into a conversation and that is what makes video chats superior to audio calls in interpersonal communication.

It's been said that our senior citizens are at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19 with the slightest exposure and as such must limit the number of people around them.

So how do you check on your older family members and parents who live a few blocks away if visiting puts them at risk? Video chat apps are the solution that brings family members together and allows near real visits.

Video chat apps, like Zoom Meeting, are especially beneficial to businesses and corporations at this time when employees have to stay home. Businesses leaders and managers can set up meetings and consultations remotely with their employees to keep business running. This has provided a very convenient platform for people who work from home.

Here are a select few of the best video chat apps that you may use to stay in touch with loved ones and colleagues.

Google Duo

Google Duo is a free to use the app by Google for video and audio calls. The app is compatible with both iOS and Android devices and currently has a limit of up to 12 participants in a group chat.

Google Duo uses your phone number to carry the communication and allows you to see live video of the caller before you answer. It is easy to use with a simple interface, albeit safe with end-to-end encryption.

Key features include:

  • Knock Knock feature that allows you to see live video of the caller before answering
  • End-to-end encryption for added security
  • Sending personalized video and voice messages
  • Taking a photo together with the caller

Zoom Meeting

Zoom Meeting is a cloud-based video conferencing app that allows virtual meetings between several people by way of video, audio, or a combination of both in a live session.

The app comes with capacity for one-on-one chats, group calls, webinars and training sessions for either internal or external audiences. It also allows for global video conferences with up to 1,000 participants and a maximum of 49 on-screen videos. The free version of the app limits group sessions to 100 participants at 40 minutes.

Key features include:

  • Screen sharing where other participants see what you see
  • Group video conferences
  • Unlimited one-on-one meetings


FaceTime is a video chat app from Apple that remains compatible with Apple products only, although originally developed as an open standard for use across other platforms.

FaceTime calls use both video and audio, and cannot be done with any Android device. The Group FaceTime has a capacity for 32 participants in a chat with a display of each of them in a tiled view.

Key features include:

  • Memoji or Animoji characters to cover your face on video calls
  • Can capture live photo during chat
  • Can block unwanted FaceTime video and audio calls


Skype is a video conferencing tool that has been around for some time. Skype is a software from Microsoft for voice and video calls between groups of up to 50 participants as well as one-on-one chats. At the same time, it allows instant messaging and sharing of files. Skype also provides superior IP telephony for international users that is especially good for business.

Key features include:

  • Call recording of important video meetings
  • Screen sharing on mobile
  • Live transmission and translation

Facebook Messenger

Messenger is an independent instant messaging service from Facebook available on Android and iOS devices through Facebook or installed as an add-on in some browsers.

Owned by Facebook, Messenger remains independent at the same time allowing people without Facebook accounts to use it. Its core function is texting for both one-on-one and group messaging that can be done simultaneously alongside video calls. Messenger has a capacity for 50 participants in a video call session.

Key features include:

  • Built-in emojis, stickers and GIFs
  • Typing indicator that shows when the other person is typing
  • Sending money or make payments on the app

Time to Video Chat

Now that you have a clear idea of what a video chat app is and why they are so beneficial during this time, it is easier to choose which app is right for you. For more security, choose Google Duo. For business purposes, choose Zoom or Skype. And, for more intimate conversations with friends and family, FaceTime (for Apple devices) and Messenger are the best choices.