Google launched Duo, a new video calling app this week, that was first announced at Google’s I/O Conference in May this year. Duo enters a crowded field of video calling services that offer many different features.
Knowing which video calling service is best for you has become more complicated. But the good news is that all of these services are free, so experimenting won’t cost you any money.
You may end up using more than one service to chat face-to-face with others. You may like using one service with your friends while using another for business. Some features may be unimportant to you and make using a service more complicated.
The key is finding which one(s) are the best fit for you.
Adding an App
FaceTime is built into Mac computers, iPhones and iPads so no additional app is necessary. Many people already are on Facebook so they can use Messenger for video calls without downloading a new app.
Signing Up for an Account
Similarly, if you don’t want to sign up for a new account to use a video chat service, you may want one that works without needing a new account.
Some services also offer voice calls. FaceTime, Messenger and Skype also allow you to make voice calls within the app. Skype offers voice calls to other Skype accounts for free and to phone numbers for a fee. FaceTime lets you call (iPhone) phone numbers around the world for free.
The more platforms you can use a video calling service on the better. Duo, Skype, Messenger and Hangouts all offer apps across platforms so you can use them on both Android and iOS (iPhone/iPad). FaceTime is for Apple devices (Mac, iPhone and iPad) only.
Many video calling services can be used on computers as well as mobile devices. FaceTime, Messenger, Skype and Hangouts all let you make video calls using your computer as well as your phone and tablet. You do need to have a video camera for your computer to use these services.
Duo is only available as an app for Android and iPhone/iPad.
Easy to Use
If you’re fumbling to answer a video call when it comes in, then you may experience more frustration than joy when using the service.
Duo and FaceTime are the easiest services to use. You can easily answer calls and switch between the front and rear cameras on your phone.
Connecting with Others
Connecting with others should be simple. Skype requires you know a friend’s user name before placing a video call. Duo and FaceTime let you use phone numbers to place video calls. Messenger lets you make video calls to your Facebook friends. You can place Hangout calls to others if you have their Gmail address and/or if you are connected on Google Plus.
Some video calling services let you have group chats with multiple people joining the call at the same time. Hangouts, Skype and Messenger let you add multiple people to the call.
Duo and FaceTime only allow you to connect two callers.
Screen sharing allows you to display your computer screen in the video call. This feature is handy when you want to demonstrate something or when you need help troubleshooting an issue with your computer.
Hangouts and Skype allow screen sharing.
This chart sets out the different features for each service. (Double click or tap on the chart for a larger view.)
Duo is available as an app on:
Duo has a unique feature called Knock Knock that shows you video from the caller before you answer the call. You can then get a sneak peek at what’s going on before you answer the call. Knock Knock only works on iOS if the app is open and you’re using it.
The app will also lower the quality of the video if the Internet signal strength is weak.
This video shows how Duo works.
Duo is new this week so after you add the app you will probably have to ask your friends to add it too.
FaceTime is a service that lets users of Apple products connect via video and voice calls. See, FaceTime Audio – Why and How You Should Use It.
The service is easy to use and available on iPhone, iPad and Mac computers. You can connect with others using their cell phone number or the email address they use as their Apple ID.
Skype is Microsoft’s video chat service you can also use to make voice calls. You can make Skype calls using your computer or mobile device and use screen sharing on your computer.
Add up to 25 people to a group Skype call. Skype also offers voice messages and other features.
Facebook’s video calling service is available on computers in chat using Chrome, Firefox and Opera browsers, but not on Safari. It also works on mobile devices in the Messenger app. Click on the camera icon to begin a video chat with a Facebook friend.
In April, Facebook added the ability to add people to a group chat in Messenger.
Google’s other video calling service is Hangouts, which is available on computers and mobile devices using the Hangout app. You can add multiple people to the video chat and share your screen on your computer.
Which video calling services do you use? Vote in The Wonder of Tech poll:
Do you use a video calling service? Which features are most important to you? Which services are your favorites?
Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.
* Video call hand image (edited) courtesy of portal gda via Flickr and Creative Commons
* Baby FaceTime image courtesy of Shad Reynolds via Flickr and Creative Commons
* Skype image courtesy of 27707 via Pixabay and Creative Commons