When looking for a video conferencing app for you and your family and friends, don't expect to click on and catch up without a little groundwork.
In an effort to find the best solution for a casual virtual catch-up, we selected a range of the most commonly available free group video apps and collected user feedback using CHOICE staff for a series of video group chat sessions.
In an effort to find the best solution for a casual virtual catch-up, we selected a range of the most commonly available free group video apps.
Our CHOICE tester holds an online video call and then gets user feedback on video and audio quality across the various smartphone types and desktops. He then collates the results and incorporates the data with his own assessment of the ease of use aspects of installing, using and deleting the app off your system.
The trialists used each app in a video chat and provided feedback on audio and video quality, ease of use and general comments. Our CHOICE tester also looked at each app and assessed how well each one deals with any privacy and permission aspects when first trying it, as well as deleting the app from your system.
All the apps we tested are free to use, with some restrictions for some products such as time or participant limits.
All apps work on Apple iOS, iPadOS (except WhatsApp) and Google Android (except Apple Group FaceTime). All except Apple Group FaceTime support text chat during a video session. Only Zoom and Skype ask for permission before recording or provide a transcript of the session.
We recommend video conferencing apps that score at least 80% overall.
The overall score is made up of:
Performance (audio and video) score (50%)
The trialists used each app in a video chat and provided feedback on audio and video quality. The average results for audio and video determine the performance score.
Ease of use score (35%)
Our tester looks at the various aspects that help make a video chat hassle-free, including the ability to easily mute yourself, mute others in the video chat, using the app while working on something else and changing the video layout grid.
Data consumption score (5%)
The tester measures the amount of data the app uses during a video chat. This could be an issue if you're not on an unlimited internet plan.
First use score (5%)
We look at how good the experience is when using the app for the first time: are you left confused and stressed, or can you click on the video chat and start enjoying your meeting straight away?
Cancelling account score (5%)
How easy is it to wipe the app off your computer and out of your life when you are finished with it? Some apps keep bugging you with notifications and begging you to come back.