As promised- here's a list of some of the GROUP VIDEO CHAT platforms you can use to stay in touch- visually-with family and friends while still practicing "social distancing"! We did it with out friends the other night and we had a blast!!
Here are some you can use-
Video Chat Platforms
- FaceTime- Have an iPhone, iPad or Mac computer? You can use Apple's built-in FaceTime app to video chat with any of your contacts (as long as they also use the Apple platform). While it's primarily for video chatting, you also can use it to make audio calls if you're in a spot that has a WiFi or data connection but a poor phone signal. Group FaceTime even allows you to chat with up to 32 people at once and can be used with almost all iOS devices with iOS 12 installed.
- Google Duo/Hangouts- You can use the Google Duo app on your Android phone, iOS smartphone, tablet or computer to video chat with up to eight of your friends at a time. It uses your phone number and accesses your phone's contacts list to let you start creating groups. Among its most unique features: Knock Knock, which gives users a preview of the person calling by firing up the camera on the other end of the line. Whereas Google Duo is meant to be much more specialized, Google Hangouts is ideal to use on desktops. It supports messaging and group chats, and has voice and video chat capabilities. It's built into Google+, Gmail, YouTube and Google Voice, and the app is compatible on iOS, Android and online.
- Marco Polo- This easy-to-use app combines the best of texting, social media and video chats on one platform. If you want to video chat with someone — but can't do so in real time because they have a busy work schedule or live in another time zone — Marco Polo is the app for you. You can send video messages to individuals or groups that they can watch and respond to at their leisure. Marco Polo saves all your video messages — and doesn't limit your video time — so you can revisit past conversations. You also can add fun filters and voice effects to give your friends on the other end of the videos a laugh.
- Skype- Skype messaging, as well as video and audio calling, was created for both one-on-one and group conversations, and you can use it on your mobile phone; PCs and Macs; Xboxes and Alexa. It's free to send messages, and to conduct audio and video calls with groups of up to 50 people (paying a nominal fee also enables you to call mobile and landline phones or send online text messages). Skype even lets you record, save and share your video calls, and offers live captions and subtitles. It's free to download (for iOS, Android, Windows and Mac) and easy to use. Just establish an account and add your friends to your contacts list.
- Facebook Messenger- More than 1 billion people have Facebook accounts, so theoretically you can use the Facebook Messenger app to connect with any of them. You can send instant messages, photos or videos, stickers, GIF files, emojis and more. You also can make free WiFi video calls from almost anywhere. Using Facebook Messenger is like using any other instant-messaging app. Simply click or tap on the compose button, select the individual(s) you would like to chat with and then start typing.
- Netflix Party- If you want to have movie night with the girls, you still can using Netflix Party. It's a free Chrome browser extension you download on your computer. Once you've done that, you just navigate Netflix and pick the movie or TV show you want to watch. To invite friends to join your party, pause your show after it loads and click the red "NP" button. That will give you a unique link to send your friends so they can join your "room." Then you can watch your movie or TV show together — and even talk about it using the platform's chat tool.
- Watch2gether- If you don't have Netflix but still want to hang out with friends and watch videos online, Watch2gether lets you do just that. Head to the website and just "create a room" (no registration is required) and start watching video content from sources like YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion and SoundCloud. You can also sign up for free and create an online nickname. That way you can start inviting friends to rooms you can create, or join rooms that someone else has started.
- Zoom- The premier video chat app for business meetings and conference calls, Zoom is more expensive than other calling apps, but it’s meant for different things. The free version of Zoom allows you to host open or closed conference calls for up to 100 participants, with unlimited one-on-one meetings, and 40 minute limits to group calls—premium versions will eliminate call time limits and increase the attendee cap to up to 250 people. While you’re in a call, there are easy options for screen sharing, call recording, and a side bar text chat.
- Microsoft Teams– Microsoft Teams is mostly used for business meetings. Scheduled meetings, meeting recordings, phone calls, and audio conferencing. Online and video conferencing meetings for up to 250 people. Online events for up to 10,000. Background blur on video calls. Company recently announced it would offer a free six month free trial of paid Teams plans.
Reach out and stay in touch with your friends and family! It will help us all feel a little less isolated in the next few/several weeks!