With the coronavirus pandemic holding people all over the world in their homes at least the next month, more and more are looking into video-calling apps. The technology has become more widely-used than ever, especially for multiple groups to talk all at once. There are also more options than ever, and choosing the right app can be hard.
The COVID-19 pandemic is still ravaging the world, and experts say the best way to combat it is with social distancing. This means that people are only leaving the house when absolutely necessary — either to shop for food, work an essential job or do something else that can't be avoided. Everything else, from family visits to office work, is being done online.
For that, video-chatting is a must. The technology is linking family members who otherwise could not be together, and allowing offices to continue thriving from their homes. Experts say that this digital connection will be important to maintain if we are to maintain our social distancing guidelines effectively.
In fact, some are going so far as to say that "social distancing" is the wrong term, but instead we are only "physically distancing" from each other. Through video-calling and other social media, we should be able to stay as social as ever.
Here are the top video-calling apps to stay connected through the coronavirus pandemic.
Zoom is designed for office meetings, with many people calling in from disparate locations. It was a break-out app in 2019, with more than half of Fortune 500 companies reportedly using it in that year.
While Zoom is popular among offices, it is coming to prominence for casual calls amid the coronavirus pandemic as well.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Houseparty app was made with social calls in mind. The app is set up like a social media app, with all the features you might need to stay in touch with your friend and share the highlights of your day with them. It, too, can handle multiple callers with ease.
Viber markets itself on privacy and security, allowing people to share messages and files securely as well as video-chat. It also has fun features like emojis that display across platforms. Viber works with Windows 8 and up as well as Android and iOS operating systems.
my fam got this marco polo app to communicate, just take a second look how cute my grandma is😂😂 pic.twitter.com/hnMSoD7Y6w— lex (@becker_lexi) April 1, 2020
Even with the best app, it can be hard to get a big family together for a video call all at the same time. For that, there is Marco Polo, which has the flexibility for live video chats or staggered video messaging. The app is a nice halfway point between a text and a call.
WhatsApp was already rising in popularity in recent years, but now more people are exploring the full range of its functions. It is an easy way to make big group calls, giving it a leg up in these confusing times. WhatsApp can do video calls too, though the quality is not quite as high as some of its competitors.
For iOS and MacOS users, there is always FaceTime, the system's built-in video-calling app. It is a quick and easy way to connect with friends or family — provided they also use an Apple device — and it allows group calls as well.
Likewise, Microsoft's proprietary video calling app, Skype, remains a reliable platform as well. Skype was one of the first big video-calling apps on the market, and it remains a powerful free tool for connecting multiple people on any device.
Finally, there is Google Duo, the video-calling app that adapts seamlessly to different devices and operating systems. One of the big benefits of Duo is its ease of use, as anyone with a Gmail account can easily sign in and get started without much hassle. With Google's line of Pixel phones growing on popularity in recent years, this may be the option many people go with during the coronavirus pandemic.
For the latest on COVID-19 visit the CDC's website.