There’s no place like home. But, with all of us doing our part to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) through social distancing, far fewer opportunities for activities outside the house on your calendar could leave you feeling a little isolated.
Luckily, your tech can help you to stay connected. While in-person gatherings have been limited to a tiny number of people in the same room at one time, thanks to today’s video chat app options, you can digitally connect with more than 30 people at once in the same virtual space using group video calls.
Even when not in the midst of a pandemic, our experts understand that your technology, especially your phone, is your lifeline. So, they did the research for you and found the best video conferencing options to keep you virtually connected to your friends and family. Here are the best free video chat apps that are perfect for group calling.
You might be thinking, “Facebook doesn’t have a video chat option, that’s Facebook Messenger.” You’re right about Facebook Messenger having video chat capabilities that allow you to chat with a large group of fellow Messenger users at once. But with Facebook, you also have the option to do watch parties. It’s a way to watch any public video on Facebook with a group so you can react in real time with your friends. For example, with the cancellation of major sports, some fans are setting up watch parties to relive their favorite moments from the season and speculate where their team would’ve ended up in the tournament.
Do you miss your weekly Taco Tuesday dinner dates with your friends? WhatsApp can help! It’s available for Android and iOS devices and, even better, the live group video chat feature is free. Just set up the call for up to four people and toast your margaritas to social distancing from the comfort and safety of your own home.
If working from home is making you miss your casual watercooler conversations with your coworkers, Google Duo is a good option. It’s available for both Android and iOS smartphones, tablets and computers. It lets you talk face-to-face with a group of up to 8 people, and is a great option for when the people in your circle have many different types of tech. Schedule a virtual coffee date with your coworkers to catch up on life beyond their new work from home environment.
Need a new way for your kids to get some social interaction with their friends while keeping their distance? Try FaceTime. If you have an iPhone, iPad or any Apple device, FaceTime is a great option to have one-on-one or group conversations. In the FaceTime app, you can invite up to 32 people into one conversation. Idea: set up a FaceTime conversation with the parents of your child’s friends, hand them the device and watch your child’s face light up with happiness!
How to fix common video chat issues
Is the video quality bad? Does the video drop because of a poor connection? Our experts also came up with these online video chat troubleshooting suggestions to help you optimize your video setup and get the best experience.
- Check the internet connection. Video chat apps like FaceTime and Google Duo connect more easily through Wi-Fi than using your phone’s data connection. If video conferencing on your computer, connect your computer to ethernet if possible to create an even more stable connection. Google offers a free speed test tool to check your connection — 10Mbps or more is ideal.
- Restart your device and close apps you aren’t using. Close all other unnecessary apps currently running on your device, as they might be slowing it down by running in the background. A quick restart should clear the air for connection.
- Update the app. Is your software out of date? Make sure the version of the app on your device is the latest and greatest. Old software will not connect as well.
- Notice your surroundings. Lighting and audio can account for technical difficulties too! Avoid backlighting from a window, yet make sure there’s enough light in front to illuminate your face. Limit background noise as much as possible, too.
We’re all taking it day-by-day and trying our best to keep our social distance to help limit the spread of coronavirus. With these video chat apps, we can follow the guidelines while still staying connected to those who matter most.
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