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the best free apps for making group video calls

26 mayo, 2021

Video calls are a clear example of how technology has changed our lives in ways that many of us could not imagine when we were children (at least those of us who used MS-DOS). But if it is now difficult to imagine not being able to use this technology, it is even more complicated imagine what we would do if we did not have the option of resorting to it, now that most of us Spaniards have isolated ourselves in our homes because of the coronavirus crisis.

Therefore, from Genbeta we have wanted to offer you a selection of the most outstanding apps when it comes to allowing us to make free group video calls, so that you can have several options to keep in contact with your friends and family.

App

Maximum number of participants

Need to install software

WhatsApp

4

Yes

Houseparty

8

Yes

Hangouts

10

Not

Skype

10

Not

Facetime

32

Yes

Discord

fifty

Yes

Zoom

100

Not

Jitsi

Unlimited

Not

Google Hangouts (10 participants max.)

Taking advantage of the fact that most Internet users have a Gmail account, resorting to a video calling application from this company seems the simplest option to avoid interlocutors having to register on new platforms.

The problem is that Google has a little chaos on its hands when it comes to instant messaging, with several apps whose functionality overlaps. We recommend Hangouts, an old but reliable application that we can use from the browser, without having to resort to their desktop or mobile applications.

Google Hangout

The maximum number of simultaneous participants in video calls in Hangouts is 10 people (unless we have the business version of the app, which will increase the number to 25).

WhatsApp (4 participants max.)

If it is easy for us to have a Google account, it is even more frequent that we have a mobile phone in which we have installed WhatsApp, the de facto standard in instant messaging.

Unfortunately, its usefulness in the field of video calls is somewhat limited: it does not allow more than 4 participants, and it is not available in the web version, which forces us to use it only from the smartphone.

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FaceTime (32 participants max.)

From the 4 of WhatsApp we went to the 32 possible participants in FaceTime, Apple’s voice and video calling app that we can find in the company’s devices. And that is precisely their problem: their devices represent a smaller percentage in a market dominated by Windos and Android, so many of your contacts will not be able to use this tool.

Skype (10 participants max.)

Skype

Many of us made our first group video call using Skype, one of the veteran applications in this field. Available for a long time for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, iOS and Android, it also has a web version that will avoid having to install software as long as we have a Microsoft account (Outlook / Hotmail).

Its free version offers the option of group video calls in which 10 people participate simultaneously, although if we renounce the video and we are satisfied only with the audio, the number of participants can rise to 25.

It has several interesting options such as screen sharing or the ‘portrait mode’, which allows us to blur the background of the image of our webcam.

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Discord (50 participants max.)

Discord is a messaging application full of tricks and extra features (screen sharing, bot system, etc.), with a growing popularity among various user sectors, especially among gamers. It allows you to create servers that contain several chat channels (you can even reserve some for voice conversations).

The bad thing is It does not have a web version, which forces us to install the application, but not so many free apps can boast group calls that contain up to 50 users simultaneously.

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Zoom (100 participants max … for 40 minutes)

One of the two most popular video calling apps these days in app stores, so much so that its developer company has seen its shares grow since the coronavirus crisis began.

An incredibly complete tool, also widely used to give online seminars, and that has the option of using its web interface. It not only allows screen sharing, but also displays a virtual whiteboard in which we can write and draw. It doesn’t blur the background, like Skype … but it does allow us to place an image behind us as long as the wall color is uniform.

And as for participants? The free option allows group meetings of up to 100 users with a maximum duration of 40 minutes Of course, 1-to-1 video calls have no time limitations.

Houseparty (8 participants max.)

Houseparty is, right now, TOP1 of downloads in the App Store and TOP5 in the Google Play Store, thanks among other things to its sudden popularity in the western countries most affected by the quarantine against the coronavirus: Spain and Italy.

This app, purchased a few months ago by Epic Games, is available for iOS, mac OS, Android, and Chromium-compatible browsers (in the form of an extension).

Its maximum limit of participants is not very wide (8 users), but tries to differentiate itself from its rivals by offering a more playful approach, which includes -for example- games designed to be played in a group, such as Pictionari or Trivial.

Jitsi (no limit of participants!)

Jitsi

Jitsi is a free app and Open Source that we can use in various operating systems. But the best thing is that it has a web version that we can use by entering http://meet.jit.si; then we will only have to share the URL created to add participants to the group video call.

It also allows screen sharing, and even ‘raise your hand’ to order participation … very important aspect because this tool has no participant limit in the same video conversation.