Best Video Calling Software
With South Africa’s strict lockdown enforcements, businesses, schools, and even families have been encouraged to keep in touch over video calls. We’re all familiar with it now.
With that said, it can be hard to keep track of all of the different software options.
To help you select video calling software that will meet your expectations (without you feeling the need to run for the hills), we’ve done some research to bring you a brief list of the most reliable video calling applications that are free to install.
Skype is a veteran. It’s been around for more than 10 years and has remained the preferred choice for many. It’s popular for its free features for business and non-business use and its ability to provide quality graphics on slower lines.
Pro: Perfect for chatting cross-platform.
Con: It’s not the most user-friendly option.
Best for: Business meetings with a handful of participants or a catch-up with a few friends/family members.
Ideal bandwidth requirements: For one-on-one low-quality video Skypes calls, a line speed of 0.4Mbps will do (for HD video calling, 1.5Mbps is ideal). Group videos, on the other hand, can get more data-intensive and it’s recommended that your broadband connection can download at least 4Mbps.
Google Hangouts has been designed for users to, well, hangout! However, it’s more than just an app that accommodates socializing. It includes some nifty features for business use too and if you’re a fan of Google, then you’ll appreciate how it syncs seamlessly with the brand’s other products.
Pro: The user interface is extremely user-friendly (making it a great choice for those who are new to video calling).
Con: The video quality is not as great as many other comparable products.
Best for: Large group meetings and lengthy chats.
Ideal bandwidth requirements: Google Hangouts’ minimum bandwidth requirement is 0.3Mbps. However, for a more “real-life” high-quality video call experience, then a preferable connection speed will be in the vicinity of 3.2Mbps (as an upload and download speed).
WhatsApp is the most widely used mobile video chat app. The user interface is straight forward but effective and you can enjoy a reliable (albeit not HD) connection even when the signal is poor. While WhatsApp is more popular for casual one-on-one calls, it can still host group chats with up to 3 users at a time.
Pro: It works on most Smartphones and uses little data.
Con: The video quality is far from the best.
Best for: Contacting a friend or family member for a quick chat.
Ideal bandwidth requirements: Since WhatsApp has been designed for quick and casual calling, it skimps on quality graphics and only needs a minimum speed of 0.064 Mbps to work effectively.
If you’re subscribed to Office 365, then Microsoft Teams is an option. Many businesses choose this specific video chatting software because it puts audio quality before video quality. So, if you need a reliable online platform to hold meetings on – where you know that your message is going to be well-received – then Teams is a viable option.
Pro: Integrates seamlessly with Microsoft 365.
Con: The user-interface can be somewhat overwhelming – especially for beginners.
Best for: Intra-company meetings.
Ideal bandwidth requirements: Teams can adequately deliver an HD video quality with speeds less than 1.2Mbps. However, keep in mind that the broadband consumption of each call can vary and will depend on the video layout, resolution, and video frames per second.
This video chat app is ideal for those who want to socialise with mates digitally. The software has been uniquely developed to alert users when their friends are online so that you can strike up a chat. There’s also quite the quirky twist. Other friends can drop in on a call (unless the call has been locked), leaving doors open to those who want to join the “party”.
Pro: Great video quality for group chats of up to 8.
Con: Not suggested for business use.
Best for: Groups of friends who want to socialize digitally.
Ideal bandwidth requirements: House Party is one of the more data-heavy phone video calling apps. If you’re connecting to a wireless broadband connection, then an average line speed of 3Mbps for a quality group video call will suffice.
Zoom seems to have become quite the common household name since COVID forced us all inside. With options for free and paid-for plans, users can take advantage of the platform’s basic functionality or you can access its most quality features (which are certainly something to rave about).
Pro: Zoom can easily host up to 100 users at a time with a good broadband connection.
Con: You have to pay for the best features.
Best for: Large group meetings and family chats.
Ideal bandwidth requirements: Zoom’s minimum requirements for a basic person-to-person chat is 0.6Mbps (upload and download speed). For HD quality with larger groups, a minimum of 3Mbps works best.