Home > Articles

Video Chat Comparison Guide

  • Print
  • + Share This
Learn about the major video chat platforms: their main features, what devices they work on, their pros, and their cons. It’ll help you choose which video chat platforms to use—and when.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

In this chapter, you discover the major video chat platforms—Zoom, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp, Google Duo, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams.

arrow.jpg Introducing the Major Video Chat Platforms

arrow.jpg Evaluating the Major Video Chat Platforms

arrow.jpg Which Video Chat Platform(s) Should You Use?

arrow.jpg Which Device(s) Should You Use for Video Chat?

All the video chat platforms discussed in this book do pretty much the same thing in pretty much the same fashion—although there are some differences between them. The question, then, is which video chat platform should you use—under which circumstances.

Read on to learn about the major video chat platforms: their main features, what devices they work on, their pros, and their cons. It’ll help you choose which video chat platforms to use—and when.

Introducing the Major Video Chat Platforms

Which video chat platform you use when depends on the device you use, the number of people you want to chat with, how long you want to talk, and more. This section covers eight video chat platforms, all free and popular with individual users.

Zoom

Zoom is the most popular video chat platform today, used by about two-thirds of all people doing video chatting. Zoom started out targeting large businesses but gained popularity among individuals, schools, houses of worship, and other organizations with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today people use Zoom to connect with friends and family, hold small group meetings, do distance learning, celebrate milestones such as birthdays and anniversaries, conduct business meetings, and much more.

One reason Zoom became so popular is because it’s fully cross-platform. That means anyone on any device—Android or iOS (Apple) phone or tablet, or Chromebook, Mac, or Windows computer—can use Zoom, as long as the device is connected to the Internet.

Another factor is that Zoom is extremely easy to use. You simply set up an account and download the app. Then the organizer, or host, enters the phone number or email addresses of the invited participants, each of whom receives a text message or email with a link. To join the meeting, just click the link. The first time you use Zoom, you’re prompted to install the Zoom app (Zoom calls it the “Zoom client,” and it’s free), but on subsequent uses, the app should launch automatically. The meeting opens with all participants appearing in their own little box in the onscreen grid.

Zoom is also popular because you can share files or content so everyone can view and collaborate in real time. With the free version of Zoom, a meeting can hold up to 100 participants for 40 minutes. Learn more at www.zoom.us.

Apple FaceTime

If you have an iPhone or iPad, you’ve probably used FaceTime video chat. Chatting with FaceTime is as easy as making a phone call. FaceTime also works on Mac computers, although it’s not available for Android phones or tablets or for Windows computers.

If you have an Apple device, FaceTime shows up as a calling feature and taps directly into your device’s contacts. With the tap of an onscreen button, you can initiate or answer a video call.

If you want to hold a group video chat, you use a feature that Apple calls Group FaceTime. This lets you hold chats with up to 32 participants with no time limits.

FaceTime is included for free with all Apple computers and devices, no additional installation necessary.

Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger is a messaging and video chat app from the Facebook social network. It’s available to all Facebook members on all devices (Android and iOS phones and tablets, as well as Chromebook, Mac, and Windows computers). It is only available to people who are Facebook members.

On a computer, you use Facebook Messenger from the Facebook website, in any web browser. On phones and tablets, you download the Messenger app separately from the Facebook app or use your phone’s web browser. (Facebook also makes separate Facebook Portal devices that enable Messenger voice and video calls through a smart display or, in the case of the Portal TV device, your TV.)

Messenger lets Facebook users participate in audio and video calls with their Facebook friends. By default, all calls are person to person, although Facebook offers Messenger Rooms for group chat. A Room can have up to 50 participants; you can even invite people who don’t have Facebook accounts to a Room. There is no time limit on Messenger video chats.

Because of how easy it is to use—and how many people use Facebook every day—Facebook Messenger is increasing in popularity, especially among older users. Learn more at www.messenger.com.

Skype

Skype was one of the first video chat platforms. Like Zoom, it’s available across most major platforms—Android and iOS phones and tablets, as well as Mac and Windows computers (but not Chromebooks). I have an Android phone, and I use Skype almost daily to chat with one of my granddaughters who has an Apple iPhone.

f0036-01.jpg

Skype on an Android phone

Like all the other services discussed here, Skype video chats are completely free. Learn more at www.skype.com.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp is a mobile-based messaging and video chat platform that is extremely popular among school-aged kids but is also gaining popularity among more mature users. It’s actually more popular outside the United States, with a huge following in Latin America, India, and parts of Asia and Europe. The app is available for both Android and iOS devices.

f0038-01.jpg

The WhatsApp app on an Android phone

WhatsApp started out as a messaging platform for younger users and still is used by many to send text messages and photos to friends. (It includes lots of stickers and emoji that the kids seem to like.) The platform has added voice and video chat, as well, which makes it a popular choice, especially for those already using it for texting.

Know, however, that when it comes to voice and video chatting, WhatsApp is strictly for mobile phone users. You can voice and video chat on Android and iOS devices but not on the web-based version of the service, which is limited solely to text messages.

By default, WhatsApp video chats are one to one. You can, however, add up to eight total participants to a group video call with no time restrictions. If you want to include even more participants, you can shift from WhatsApp to Messenger Rooms in the Facebook Messenger app. (WhatsApp is owned by Facebook and shares the Messenger Rooms technology.)

WhatsApp is a free service, like all the other video chat platforms discussed here. Learn more at www.whatsapp.com.

Google Duo

Google Duo is a newer video chat platform from Google, designed to compete with Apple FaceTime for both iPhone and Android smartphone use. You’ll find Google Duo preinstalled on many Android phones (including Google’s line of Pixel phones). You can also download the Duo app for free from the Google Play Store for Android devices or Apple’s App Store for iPhones and iPads. There’s also a web version available, so you can use it on your Chromebook, Mac, or Windows computer.

f0039-01.jpg

Google Duo on an Android phone

Duo is primarily designed for one-on-one video calls (and in the Android and iOS apps is integrated with your phone’s calling app). You can, however, set up group video chats with up to 32 participants with no time limits. Google Duo is free, although you need a Google account to use it. Learn more at duo.google.com.

Google Meet

Also from Google is Google Meet. Unlike Duo, Google Meet is designed for larger video meetings of up to 100 participants for up to 60 minutes.

Google Meet was originally designed for secure business meetings. During the early weeks of the COVID-19 crisis, however, Google reengineered it to be more consumer friendly (and to compete more directly with Zoom). Today, Google Meet is free for consumers to use; all you need is a Google account.

Google Meet is available for all devices and platforms, including Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, and Chrome OS. Google also offers paid accounts with additional features, including no 60-minute time limit on chats.

Learn more at meet.google.com.

Microsoft Teams

The final video chat platform in our sights is Microsoft Teams. Teams is actually a collaboration platform targeted at businesses as part of the Microsoft 365 offering.

The business version of Microsoft Teams includes text messaging, voice and video calling, video conferencing, and file sharing between Microsoft’s Office apps; the cost is a minimum of $5 per user per month. There is also a free version of Microsoft Teams designed for consumers that focuses on messaging and audio and video chat.

This free version of Microsoft Teams includes one-on-one and group voice and video chats. It’s available on all platforms, including Android and iOS as well as via web browser on Windows, Mac, and Chromebook computers. Group video chats can have up to 250 participants and last up to 24 hours, making Teams a good choice for all-day meetings or chats. Learn more at www.microsoft.com/microsoft-365/microsoft-teams/group-chat-software.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020