Best From-Home Video Chat Apps!
Since the middle of March we’ve been at home doing everything online – from business meetings and schoolwork to socializing and partying. And as a result, we’ve become better acquainted with video chat apps and which work best for what! Here’s what we’ve discovered when it comes to connecting your favorite devices for formal and informal conversations, and virtual gatherings!
Who’s Zooming Who?
When the pandemic first forced office workers to stay at home, Zoom was the app that became synonymous with work, school and group get-togethers from home. But the world’s most-used app was beset by pandemic-sized problems when hackers started busting in on private conversations. And the interruptions were not always G-rated. To its credit, Zoom scrambled week by week to make changes and keep the bad cyber nerds from Zoom bombing at will.
Security experts at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Consumer Reports and privacy software maker Disconnect agree it is moving in the right direction. Zoom already has changed some default settings including one that makes people joining calls go into a virtual waiting room before they can be admitted to the call.
The privacy issues are not unique to Zoom, but it has been the quickest manufacturer to respond by hiring respected security and privacy leaders. The app is quickly moving toward end-to-end encryption – the gold standard — to keep the no-good pranksters out. Zoom still offers most of what people need in a group video conference – the simplest way for 49 people to get together on one screen in a Brady Bunch grid – whether they have a smart phone, PC or old school landline.
Best Video Quality
From all reports – mostly Heather Kelly’s at The Washington Post – Skype wins the award for sharpest video quality. The test Kelly performed involved holding up an eye test and asking a guest to read the smallest type. Skype’s picture came in clearest and made the small type easiest to read. If you’d like to see the comparisons Kelly did, click here.
While none of the video chat apps were 100 percent clear ALL the time, Skype was the clearest most often. This app has been around for a while and was the go-to for connecting with long distance relatives and out of town friends and family for a long time. Skype can accommodate up to 50 people in a call, and now has live subtitles – displaying words spoken during the video call. Recently it added a one-link-to-join option like Zoom, but you can’t use it for a scheduled meeting with a pass code.
Best for a Party: Houseparty
Epic Games bought Houseparty last year which is a funky little video chat app made for frivolity, fun and maybe a drink with other people. The mobile version has built-in games to fill in awkward silences – which are inevitable when you’re having a one-dimensional party online! There’s also the option to meet new people and split off into separate rooms if you find like-minded acquaintances.
By far this is the most social of the video chat contenders, and to drive that point home, Houseparty invited celebrities to videotape segments any group could watch together. Two we know about are Idina Menzel flubbing the words to a song from Frozen, or Zooey Deschanel just being her zany, Zooey self.
While most are still sticking with Zoom for their video chatting needs, big tech’s titans are trying to replace it with re clones focused on business, gaming and meeting new people. Third-party tools make it easy to turn your favorite video chat app into a party with, for example, Jackbox.tv games. That one includes group competitions like creating funny T-shirts, and works with any app that allows screensharing, like Skype, Zoom and Meet.
Facebook rolled out Messenger Rooms, a group video chat service that works across its own apps and even for people without FB accounts on the social network. Google made a free version of Meet, its service built for businesses (and a cousin of a similar Google service, Hangouts). And don’t count out Apple’s FaceTime, built into iPhones and Macs, or WhatsApp. While the latter is owned by Facebook, the video calls on What’sApp are fully encrypted (which Facebook Rooms is not). But WhatsApp group calls don’t work well on PCs and Macs and are limited to just eight participants.
The big takeaway when it comes to video chatting, according to the experts, is this: the best communication tool is the one that works for the most people. And if you really want to trust the software, you have to be willing to pay for it.
Video Chatting in Crystal Valley
Things are opening back up post-pandemic, but when you’re confined to home for work and class time, it’s nice to shelter in the brand new homes in the master-planned community of Crystal Valley. There’s never been a better time to buy a new home set in natural surroundings in the fast-growing Castle Rock community. Floor plans and elevations vary from Richmond American Homes, Kauffman Homes, Century Communities and D.R. Horton. You can virtually visit these homes – via a variety of video chat apps! — or set up a private tour. Choose from ranch or two-story models — priced from the $300s.