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The best zoom alternatives for video chats

  A woman lying on a bed and waving on a laptop screen.
silverkblackstock / Shutterstock

Zoom is a video conferencing app that has taken the world by storm, but only one of many. Regardless of whether you're concerned about the privacy and security issues reported by Zoom, or just want a free video chat solution for some, here are a few alternatives.

FaceTime on iPhone, iPad and Mac

  A FaceTime call between a woman and a couple on an iPhone and iPad.

FaceTime is Apple's proprietary voice and video calling service. It is available for everyone with an iPhone, iPad or Mac. You can't use FaceTime if you don't have an Apple device because the service is built into everyone.

This video chat app has long been popular for single devices due to its wide availability and ease of use – small group communication and chats. However, the service has expanded in recent years and now supports up to 32 people on a single call. Unfortunately, the proprietary nature of FaceTime means that users cannot join on Android and Windows devices.

FaceTime offers some fun features that you can use for a video call if your device supports it. On iPhone X or higher, you can use Animoji or Memoji and replace with a 3D character or apply an artistic filter. Other fun features include stickers, text labels, and shapes.

To use FaceTime, find the contact you want to call on your iPhone or start the FaceTime app for Mac. The option for FaceTime with audio or video is displayed under the contact information. You can also initiate a FaceTime group conversation from any iMessage group or in the FaceTime app on an iPhone or iPad. All FaceTime communications are encrypted at both ends.

CONNECTION: Using Group FaceTime on iPhone and iPad

Skype and Skype Meet Now

  The Skype logo. [19659008] Skype is the most obvious alternative to FaceTime because it is pre-installed on Windows 10. It also works with your Microsoft account. The big difference is that although Skype is owned by Microsoft, it's not limited to Windows devices only.

The video, voice, and text chat app is available on all major platforms, including iOS, Android, MacOS, and even Linux. In 2019, Skype received a long-awaited upgrade that increased the maximum number of participants in group calls to 50.

Skype is no longer just a voice and video calling app. You can use it to send files as a real-time translator or to share your location with friends. You can also use it to call international numbers (for a fee) as a voicemail service or to forward your calls.

Skype has been offering end-to-end encryption for private chats since 2018, but the function is optional. You must click or tap "Start New Private Conversation" to use this feature. Regular video calls are encrypted but do not use the same end-to-end encryption as other services like FaceTime and Duo.

Another option is Skype Meet Now, which you can use even if you are not registered with Skype or Microsoft. You can use it from the Skype desktop client or over the Internet if you use Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome. This is a great way to work together quickly, and even the meeting chair can do it without a Skype account. Simple!

Google Duo

  The Google Duo logo.

Duo by Google is a video calling app for Android and iOS. There is also a web version for all users of a desktop computer. It supports up to eight participants in a single call, which should be enough to keep in touch with close friends and family.

What makes Duo unique is its call quality. In the Play Store, Google describes it as "the highest quality video calling app." If you have a reliable internet connection and no longer have fuzzy videos, Duo may be worth trying. Remember that the video is only as good as your camera and connection allow.

You can also use Duo to send video messages. This is ideal if someone cannot pick up the phone. You'll also see a live feed of an incoming video call before answering it, which is strange.

Google has made sure the end-to-end encryption of the service is advertised to give you a degree of security.

19659020] Jitsi Meet

  The Jitsi.org logo.
Jitsi / 8 × 8

Jitsi is a free, open source, 8 × 8 video conferencing solution. The company uses the technology in its premium corporate products. You can download it and install it on your own server or alternatively use the hosted version Jitsi Meet.

The service is available on the Internet or you can use the mobile apps for iOS and Android. The app is full of features and the number of participants you can have on a call is (theoretically) unlimited.

In addition to group video chats, Jitsi also supports screen sharing, streaming to YouTube, dialing in by phone and – and the ability to broadcast YouTube videos for the entire group. You can also integrate Jitsi into Slack and use it to communicate with your team or your customers.

Unfortunately, Jitsi does not support full end-to-end encryption. As with Zoom, videos sent to the server are encrypted, decrypted, and then re-encrypted when forwarded to the other participants. This means that anyone who controls the server may be able to see your chats. However, if you install Jitsi on your own server, this is not a problem.

Google Hangouts

  The Google Hangouts logo.

Google has driven Hangouts Meet as part of its G Suite business -oriented tools. It's a powerful video conferencing solution if you have the budget to support it. For the rest of us, the classic version of Google Hangouts is still available and supports up to 10 people on a video call.

Hangouts are available over the Internet and dedicated apps for Android and iOS. You can also use Hangouts as an instant messenger to chat with up to 150 of your friends in a simple text chat group. You can also connect a Google Voice account to make calls, send SMS, and access voicemail services. You can even share photos and videos, stickers or GIFs, or your location with your friends via Google Maps.

The service lacks the end-to-end encryption that FaceTime and Google's other video chat service Duo have. Hangouts encrypt videos and messages between your device and Google’s servers, but are decrypted on the server. This means that people other than the intended recipient can see them.


  The Slack logo.

If you are already using Slack to stay in touch with your employees, you can do so Use this option to make voice and video calls. If you subscribe to the standard plan or better, you will receive group video calls with up to 15 people.

When you use Slack to stay in touch with friends, family, or a smaller group, you only get one-on-one video and voice calls. Although the scope is limited, this can still be a useful way to touch the base with just a few clicks.

Slack is available over the Internet, dedicated desktop clients for Windows, Mac, or Linux, or mobile apps for Android and iOS. You can also integrate other video chat solutions like Hangouts and Jitsi into Slack if you need more capacity for group calls.

Like many other services, Slack does not use end-to-end encryption. Rather, data is encrypted while it is being sent to and stored on the server. Slack previously announced that it would make this decision to maintain a higher level of functionality.

Microsoft Teams

  The Microsoft Teams logo.

Teams is Microsoft's answer to Slack and offers a generous free option. You can invite an unlimited number of people to your free account. Microsoft describes this as "free, integrated group and individual audio or video calls" for the "entire team".

Microsoft didn't immediately clarify the limitations of the team platform, but it seems The biggest hurdle is the ability to schedule online meetings. Regardless of which version you're using (free or not), Teams only shows four video streams at a time, regardless of who is connected.

However, the platform offers a host of other features, including screen sharing, web versions of Word and Excel and PowerPoint, and 10 GB of file sharing space for free accounts (with a maximum attachment size of 2 GB per account). You need to upgrade to unlock some features, e.g. B. Meeting recordings or online events for up to 10,000 viewers.

Teams do not use end-to-end encryption, but according to Microsoft, it is encrypted in transit and at rest. ”This means that other parties can access unencrypted data sent through the app.


  The Discord logo.

Discord is like Slack, but for communities and friends with a focus on gaming. Discord is not only a centralized version of IRC, but also supports private video calls for up to 10 participants. This is ideal for connecting with people you already chat with on Discord without any additional software.

All in addition to Discord's primary use as a low-latency voice chat application. This allows users to communicate in real time via audio with additional text chat options. This is the main way you communicate through Discord, but video chat is still a nice feature. You can use Discord via a web browser, its Mac or Windows apps or mobile apps for Android and iOS.

Discord is free, but there is an optional nitro level of $ 4.99 per month. However, if you only want to use the service and audio and video calling capabilities, you don't have to pay a dime.

Discord's voice-only channels are ideal for more casual communication. You might even prefer them because they are easier than setting up a video call.

Discord uses restricted encryption instead of the more robust end-to-end encryption, which ensures that only intended participants can receive your communication. This is probably not a problem for playing and chatting with friends. However, if you have concerns, you should use the unofficial Discord end-to-end encryption Tampermonkey script (however, it only works in the browser app).

Honorable mention: Snap Camera

Snap Camera is not a dedicated video calling app, but can improve many of the ones mentioned here. As the name suggests, Snap Camera is the brainchild of Snapchat and allows you to use Snapchat's fun filters in your favorite video calling apps.

After installing the app on your Windows or Mac computer, you can use Snapchat filters via Skype, Google Hangouts, Google Meet and of course Zoom. In addition to the existing filters, you can also create your own filters – just follow the detailed instructions or download some templates.

If your work chats have become boring or you want to spice up a virtual meeting (or just want to have fun self-isolating), Snap Camera is a must! It's free for young and old.

Large Group Video Conferencing

If you're looking for a video conferencing app that can accommodate a large number of people (e.g. up to 100), check out the best free workspace solutions.

CONNECTION: The 6 best free video conferencing apps

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