Whether we like it or not (and we don't!), COVID-19 is here to stay for a while, which means we’ll most likely be stuck in our homes for the foreseeable future. Staying connected to our loved ones in the age of coronavirus is not only desirable, but downright necessary for maintaining our collective mental health. Thankfully, this is 2020, so we have the beautiful gift of video conferencing to help us pass the time, and keep our work meetings scheduled. I don’t know about you, but nothing made me happier than seeing my team’s faces as I started day seven of self-isolation. Ahead, the best video conferencing apps for everything from work meetings to quick hellos with your best friends.
How Many People Can Use At The Same Time: 50
Price: $0 ($2.99/month if you want to call directly to a phone)
Best For: Calling parents and other older relatives, especially if you don't want to download a new app (or teach your grandparents how to).
How Many People Can Use At The Same Time: 100-1,000
Best For: Zoom is best for work conference calls and therapy sessions (it's HIPAA-compliant!) as it costs money if you want to meet as a group for more than 40 minutes. That being said, if you want to throw a cocktail party or book club gathering over Zoom, have at it.
How Many People Can Use At The Same Time: 25 for free, up to 250 paid
Price: $0 - $25/user/month (includes unlimited storage and a Gmail business account)
Best For: When you're missing your ride or dies while social distancing, Google Hangouts is your new best friend. You can video chat with your whole gang for as long as you want. You can also share your screen, so if you're missing movie night, one friend can rent a movie and then share with everyone else so you can watch (and react) together! So grab your wine and popcorn and get back to socializing... from a distance.
How Many People Can Use At The Same Time: 32
Price: $0 (if you own an iPhone or Apple computer)
Best For: FaceTime is the best for those quick conversations. Maybe you want to check in with your mom to prove you're still eating (even if it's just ramen...) or do a quick proof of life with your group chat or even play video games against your brother while being able to see his face. It also has the benefit of being mobile so you can bring your friends with you anywhere you're still allowed to be.
Snapchat Video Calls
How Many People Can Use At The Same Time: 16 (with filters!)
Best For: Quick calls to say hey to your friends and relatives, especially the younger ones. You can say hi for two minutes while you sit on your balcony breathing in some fresh air or catch your cousin who is hiking the Appalachian Trail for those thirty seconds she has service. This is another one you can do with a big group of people and it doesn’t have to be planned, anyone who is available can say a quick informal hello to break up the long at-home days.
How Many People Can Use At The Same Time: 3
Best For: WhatsApp is best for those who want to talk to loved ones in other countries. You can also video chat as a group and include your friends both in the US and elsewhere. This is especially great if you have friends on lockdown abroad as this will be the best way to have an actual conversation with them for the foreseeable future.
How Many People Can Use At The Same Time: 50-150
Price: $9.99/host/month and up
Best For: Hosting virtual events, so if you’re supposed to be running a conference that got postponed, this might be the way to do so. You can also get a free trial for up to 30 days, so you can decide later if you want to commit for the longterm.