Having a group video chat app makes it easy to stay connected with family, friends, and coworkers, especially during COVID-19 quarantines. But you don’t need to install and set up a new app to chat with friends and family—there’s a solid chance that you already have one on your phone, tablet, or laptop.
The best video chat apps are intuitive and offer cross-platform availability so that everyone can be included. All of these options are free, plus they support both one-on-one video chats and larger groups. Some of these chat apps also have fun extras, like games and screen sharing, that make your calls more enjoyable and help you pass the time while staying connected.
Best for Facebook Users: Facebook Messenger
Best for Instagram Users: Instagram Direct
Best for International Calls: Skype
Best for iOS Users: FaceTime
Best for Android Users: Google Duo
Best for Big Businesses: Zoom
Best for Small Businesses: Slack
Best for Gamers: Discord
Best for Big Groups: Marco Polo
Best for Small Groups: WhatsApp
Best for Playing Games Together: Bunch
Best for Screen Sharing: Squad
If you want to chat with your Facebook friends face to face, or if you’re simply looking for a cross-platform FaceTime alternative, Facebook Messenger (Free) is the way to go. With the app, you can video chat one on one or with as many as eight people simultaneously, or 50 in the group chat—no phone numbers needed. Enjoy high-quality audio, HD video, and even fun filters whether you chat on the iOS or Android apps, with Facebook Portal, or via the website.
Instagram isn’t just great for photos, it’s great for video chat as well! If you’re bored of sending messages back and forth with your IG friends, instead video chat on Instagram Direct (Free). Up to six people at a time can chat without the need for phone numbers. You can also minimize your video chat screen and keep scrolling through your feed, see when there’s a live video in a group thread, and easily block or mute people you don’t want to hear from. Check out Instagram on your iOS or Android device.
If you want to stay in touch with friends and family abroad (or even if they’re just up the street), Skype (Free) is the video chat app for you. Skype offers HD video chats for up to 50 people, which is great for extended families and small businesses. It also lets you send text or voice messages, and it provides live subtitles and mobile screen sharing. Calls are end-to-end encrypted, and the app is available for desktop, iOS and Android, tablets, Xbox, and Alexa.
Apple’s proprietary video chatting app, FaceTime (Free), is the premiere way for iOS users to video chat with each other. With the app, you can make both audio and video calls with any other iOS user as long as you have their phone number or Apple ID, with chats open to up to 32 people at a time. You can throw in fun effects and stickers or become an Animoji to make your calls more exciting. FaceTime only works on Mac and iOS devices, however, so if you have friends that use different devices, you’ll need to find another app.
Whether you’re an Android user or a Google enthusiast, you’re probably already using tons of Google’s tools, so why not its live video chat app as well? Google Duo (Free) is super easy to use and only requires a phone number—no need to sign up for an entire Google account. Duo protects your video chats with end-to-end encryption and lets you video conference with up to 12 people at the same time on your Android or iOS devices, or on the web. The fun Knock Knock feature lets you preview the person calling you in a live video before you answer, and you can send a video message if the person you are calling doesn’t answer.
If you’re still running your business during the COVID-19 pandemic (good on you), you’ll need a way to talk with your employees, and Zoom (Free) is your best bet. On the basic plan, you can chat with up to 100 participants simultaneously for 40 minutes at a time. If you need to host calls with more people, Zoom’s Business and Enterprise subscriptions ($19.99/month per host) let you connect with up to 1,000 participants at a time. Use Zoom on your iOS or Android devices, or check out its other download options.
If you already use Slack (Free) to chat with coworkers, friends, or fellow students, you may also appreciate that it also offers voice and video chat. Slack makes it easy to chat with up to 15 people at the same time—simply click the phone or camera icon in the direct message or channel page you want to interact with. If you’re on a paid plan, you can also share your screen and unlock unlimited apps and message archiving. Slack works on your desktop, as well as on iOS and Android.
Talk to your friends while you’re gaming together and stay connected in between sessions with Discord (Free). With Discord, you can text, send audio recordings, or video chat on a custom server with up to eight simultaneous participants. You can create custom emoji and group permissions, assign member roles, and make VIP channels. As you move throughout your day, you can easily switch between the desktop version of Discord and its iOS or Android apps.
Marco Polo (Free) is the best group video chat app for large groups of people—up to 200 at a time on iOS or Android devices. So whether you’re trying to wrangle your employees for a weekly team meeting or talk to your local cosplay group about an upcoming convention, you can be sure that everyone is included. Messages can be sent and opened at any time, so don’t worry if there is a scheduling conflict. Marco Polo imposes no call length limits and even lets you enhance calls with its fun doodle and filter features.
WhatsApp (Free) is more than just a text messenger—it also supports video calls for up to four users. The app has a simple, streamlined interface, and it’s available on iOS and Android devices as well as your web browser. You can sort your WhatsApp contacts into groups, and customize your notifications. Rest assured that all video calls are end-to-end encrypted for your privacy.
If you’ve run out of fun things to talk about (or if you’re just bored), why not play games with your friends while you video chat with them? Hop on Bunch‘s (Free) iOS or Android app and start playing with up to eight friends! Bunch has a few built-in games, with more being added every month, and it integrates with big titles like Minecraft, PUBG Mobile, Roblox, UNO!, Call of Duty, and more.
You can still be with your squad even when you’re not with them. With Squad (Free), you can video chat with up to nine people simultaneously. The app’s fun screen share feature lets everyone watch videos, scroll through social media, share funny photos or texts, and even shop together on iOS or Android.