The 5 best group video chat apps to use while social distancing

India is under a 21-day lockdown due to COVID-19, and people are required to stay indoors at least until April 14th. Several other countries around the world are also encouraging citizens to practice social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. As a result, several tech companies have also started offering their premium apps and services for free while others have extended their trial periods. The need to stay in touch during times like these is essential, both professionally as well as personally. Group video chat apps are helping users do just that. We’ve compliled the list of the best group video apps you can download right now, for both work and play.

Related read: How to use Netflix Party: watch shows and movies with your friends while under lockdown



WhatsApp video calls allow a maximum of four participants and are ideal for casual usage

Being one of the most popular messaging apps, WhatsApp offers a video calling function that’s easy to operate. Users just have to open the chat of the person who they wish to call and click on the video camera icon at the top right corner. However, the video calling feature isn’t accessible to large groups. You can call only 3 people at a time, and all 4 participants require a strong internet connection for the call to work. WhatsApp is a free personal messaging app which is why users don’t have to pay any amount for its video or voice call features. WhatsApp is widely used, convenient and ideal for users who want a simple video call solution.



Zoom comes in handy when you want to video chat with a lot of people

Zoom is a US-based app that works well on smartphones and laptops alike. Consumers can video call multiple people at the same time and with a free account, and a call can last for up to 40 minutes. The app is also convenient for online classes and office meetings, and offers an option to increase the number of participants to 100 with a premium account and up to 500 with the Large Meeting add-on. In addition to this, participants can also send messages to the whole group while talking and take advantage of high-quality screen sharing. Paid accounts also have the benefit of hosting a webinar or longer group meetings. Consumers can also share photos, web links, and Google Drive, Dropbox or Box files while conversing. The video call can also be recorded, which is useful for meetings and lessons. Interestingly, the app also works easily on 3G networks, along with Wi-Fi 4G/LTE.



Skype allows up to 50 people to connect at a time

Skype is a household name for video calls, letting users directly message each other for free, start a voice call or connect with a group HD video call. All of these features are free of cost and all the participants just require a strong internet connection. There’s an option for screen sharing as well and users can utilise emoticons or gifs in their chats. Skype allows 50 people to connect at once through its voice or video calling feature. The app is compatible with all kinds of devices including phones, tablets, PCs and Macs.



Houseparty also lets participants play games while on a group video call

Houseparty defines itself as a face-to-face social network and does justice to the phrase. The app is designed for chatting with friends and family. Up to 8 people can join a video chat. While signing up, you need to give the app permission to connect to your phonebook contacts or Facebook, which will let you see which of your friends have the Houseparty app installed. The app lets any of your contacts call you or join a group video call, unless you lock the chat. The app also lets friends of your friends join the video call, letting you meet new people. Another perk of this platform is the presence of various games like Head’s Up, Quick Draw and more. Participants can play these games while video chatting, so it gives the experience of hanging out with a group of friends in reality. Options like screen sharing and recording chats are also available.



Hangouts needs a Google account to function

Google Hangouts is a great personal tool that can help you stay in touch with friends and work colleagues. Users need a Google account to use this application which allows up to 10 contacts to participate in the video call for Gmail and G Suite Basic users. The G Suite Business or Education users get to add up to 25 people in a video call. In a group chat, up to 150 people can be added, and users can update their status, send photos, videos, emojis, gifs, stickers and more. The app also lets you message your contacts when they’re offline and can also call any phone number in the world.

Avica Bedi

Avica is a writer, inside out. Having found her love for technology by chance, she is an English Literature student and an entrepreneur. She loves reading stuff, drools over animals all day, binge-watches Netflix shows whole-heartedly and aspires to bring a change in this world. Oh, and she loves trying out new smartphones.