Smile, you are on video call

Video call­ing is the new way to talk. We tell you which apps to choose for seam­less, has­sle-free con­ver­sa­tions.

Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - CONTENTS - By Nidhi Singa

Mes­sen­ger apps are now of­fer­ing video calls, too. Here’s all you need to know. com­pete for the top po­si­tion.

There was a time when video calls were the per­fect rem­edy for home­sick­ness, al­beit sub­ject to good In­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity. Skype was the first to wow users by en­abling video calls on PCs/ desk­tops, with the help of web cams. Sev­eral new video call­ing apps for the mo­bile plat­form have sprouted in the past few years. A tap is all it takes to make some­one come alive on your phone. With What­sApp in­tro­duc­ing this fea­ture – throw­ing it open to its one bil­lion monthly ac­tive users world­wide – the pop­u­lar­ity of video call­ing is set to peak. Based on your phone’s OS and in­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity, you can choose from seven of the most pop­u­lar video call­ing apps.


Af­ter in­tro­duc­ing voice calls last year, the most pop­u­lar in­stant mes­sag­ing app in­tro­duced video call­ing to its users – 160 mil­lion ac­tive monthly users in In­dia alone – this month. The move is ex­pected to democra­tise video call­ing in In­dia.

Works On: An­droid, iOS, Win­dows Phone Avail­able across all ma­jor mo­bile plat­forms, video call­ing can be ac­cessed by sim­ply up­dat­ing the app. Users can make a video call to any other What­sApp user, ir­re­spec­tive of the de­vice (An­droid or iPhone) he/ she is us­ing.

Ex­PE­rI­EnCE: new users can in­stall the app and reg­is­ter with their mo­bile num­bers. All the ex­ist­ing con­tacts in the phone­book get au­to­mat­i­cally added to the What­sApp con­tact list. Mak­ing a video call is re­ally sim­ple: you can ini­ti­ate a call by go­ing to con­tacts and tap­ping on the video icon. It can be done di­rectly from an in­di­vid­ual chat win­dow – the video icon ap­pears at the top. In case the re­ceiver has not yet up­dated the app, the video call be­comes an au­dio call.

COn­nEC­TIv­ITy: What­sApp video call works over EDGE, 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi con­nec­tiv­ity. On EDGE, the video pauses too of­ten. There were some teething trou­bles dur­ing the test­ing; the call of­ten paused and re­con­nected even on high-speed broad­band con­nec­tiv­ity.


Launched in 2010, FaceTime is a pop­u­lar video call­ing app amongst iPhone users. It is Ap­ple’s pro­pri­etary app and hence not avail­able on An­droid or any other plat­form. Works On: iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPad Touch) and Mac FaceTime works smoothly across iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. Users can reg­is­ter across var­i­ous iOS de­vices us­ing the same ac­count.

Ex­PE­rI­EnCE: As the FaceTime app comes pre­in­stalled on iOS de­vices, it au­to­mat­i­cally reg­is­ters with the mo­bile num­ber on the iPhone. One can also link it with one’s Ap­ple ID (email ID). The call can be con­nected us­ing ei­ther of these. On iPad and iPod Touch, users can reg­is­ter us­ing Ap­ple ID. The FaceTime icon ap­pears next to con­tacts on the iOS plat­form, tap­ping on which ini­ti­ates a FaceTime call. One can switch to FaceTime dur­ing a reg­u­lar au­dio call by tap­ping on the video icon that ap­pears on the screen. One can also eas­ily switch be­tween the front-fac­ing and rear cam­era. In case one needs to check emails or do some­thing else dur­ing the call, only the video pauses, and the au­dio con­tin­ues.

COn­nEC­TIv­ITy: FaceTime works over cel­lu­lar con­nec­tion and Wi-Fi, but strug­gles on low band­width connections. How­ever, the call doesn’t drop eas­ily. In fact, on EDGE, the call re­mained con­nected even as the video went blank. When on low band­width, the video freezes, but au­dio con­tin­ues.


A cou­ple of years ago, Google clubbed a few of its chat ser­vices, in­clud­ing the good old Google Talk, and re­placed them with Hang­outs – an in­stant mes­sag­ing and video chat plat­form. It is one of the most pre­ferred video call­ing apps as it can be used for in­di­vid­ual as well as group video calls with up to 10 peo­ple. Works On: iOS, An­droid, ex­ten­sion for Chrome OS for PC It is pre­in­stalled on An­droid de­vices and listed on Ap­ple’s App Store.

Ex­PE­rI­EnCE: The app can be set up with a Google ac­count. Con­tacts from Gmail are au­to­mat­i­cally synced with the app, and it fetches old chats, too. The in­ter-

is slightly dif­fer­ent for iOS and An­droid – on the iPhone, the video icon ap­pears at the top of the chat win­dow; in An­droid, a di­rect video call can be ini­ti­ated by tap­ping the ‘+’ icon and se­lect­ing video call.

COn­nEC­TIv­ITy: The video call con­nected eas­ily over 3G net­work and Wi-Fi. If there are only two par­tic­i­pants in the call, Hang­outs may at­tempt to es­tab­lish a peer-to-peer con­nec­tion, in­stead of con­nect­ing through the Google server.

google Duo

Al­though Google’s Hang­outs sup­ports video call­ing, the com­pany rolled out a ded­i­cated video call­ing app, Duo, in com­pe­ti­tion to Ap­ple’s FaceTime and Mi­crosoft’s Skype.

Works On: An­droid, iOS The app is pre­in­stalled on the Pixel smart­phone, and can be down­loaded for iOS and An­droid plat­forms for free.

Ex­PE­rI­EnCE: Un­like Hang­outs that re­quires your Gmail ID for set up, Duo only re­quires a mo­bile num­ber to reg­is­ter. The UI of the app is sim­ple, as it can only be used for video calls. Launch­ing the app ac­ti­vates the front cam­era with the video call icon at the bot­tom. Tap­ping on the video call opens con­tacts that al­ready have Duo in­stalled on their smart­phones. There is also a search icon at the top. By tap­ping on the con­tact’s name, the call can be ini­ti­ated. In­vites can also be sent out. Duo has a fea­ture by which one can see the live pre­view of the caller be­fore the call is an­swered. It worked well most times.

COn­nEC­TIv­ITy: One has to have high band­width to con­nect a video call on Duo. Dur­ing our test­ing, the im­age qual­ity wasn’t very clear even when on high-speed net­work.


In the clut­ter of video call­ing apps, IMO stands out with its has­sle-free video calls. Works On: iOS, An­droid, Win­dows PC Other than being avail­able as a mo­bile app for iPhone and An­droid smart­phones, IMO can also be down­loaded on a PC for real-time video chats.

Ex­PE­rI­EnCE: It’s con­ve­nient and easy. Af­ter down­load­ing the app, one can reg­is­ter us­ing one’s mo­bile num­ber (sim­i­lar to What­sApp in­stal­la­tion). As soon as the app is ready to be used, it scans and iden­ti­fies the con­tacts that are al­ready us­ing IMO. A video icon ap­pears next to the con­tact. Tap that and the call gets in- stantly con­nected. When the call win­dow is min­imised on an An­droid smart­phone, a small win­dow ap­pears at the top that con­tin­ues to show the other per­son.

COn­nEC­TIv­ITy: IMO works over 2G, 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi connections. Un­like some of the other video call­ing apps that strug­gle over 2G, this worked smoothly on EDGE as well. This is a great app for video call­ing in ar­eas with low con­nec­tiv­ity.

hike mes­sen­ger

Hike is an­other pop­u­lar in­stant chat mes­sen­ger that in­tro­duced video calls on its plat­form in late Oc­to­ber. Un­like oth­ers that stum­ble on EDGE, Hike claims to of­fer better con­nec­tiv­ity. Works On: An­droid OS Cur­rently, video call­ing on Hike Mes­sen­ger has gone live only for An­droid smart­phones; it is ex­pected to be avail­able on the iOS plat­form in the near fu­ture.

Ex­PE­rI­EnCE: Just like What­sApp, up­dat­ing the Hike Mes­sen­ger app will activate this fea­ture. new users will have to down­load the mes­sen­ger and reg­is­ter us­ing their mo­bile num­bers. The video call­ing fea­ture is slightly hid­den as the call but­ton at the top right within the chat win­dow prompts users to choose be­tween voice and video call. Hike also of­fers live video pre­view of the caller be­fore an­swer­ing the call.

COn­nEC­TIv­ITy: While Hike claims that its video call­ing works smoothly over 2G connections, the video qual­ity was not great when we tested.


Now owned by Mi­crosoft, Skype set the trend and has been thriv­ing with a set fol­low­ing. But it’s not all smooth sail­ing. Works On: PC, Mac, An­droid, iOS, Win­dows Phone Un­like other apps that aren’t avail­able for all the plat­forms, Skype is avail­able in the form of apps as well for iOS and An­droid smart­phones, and in the form of soft­ware for Mac.

Ex­PE­rI­EnCE: Af­ter in­stalling the Skype app, one needs to cre­ate an ac­count. Con­tacts need to be added be­fore ini­ti­at­ing a video call. A re­quest is sent to the other per­son, and only when he/ she ac­cepts the re­quest can a video call be ini­ti­ated. Skype sup­ports group video call­ing, too.

COn­nEC­TIv­ITy: It fails to con­nect over EDGE, and takes a lot of time to es­tab­lish a call over 3G net­work as well.

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