8 of the best free video calling apps to keep in touch during COVID-19 lockdown

What's the best text and video calling app to keep in touch with loved ones? We've picked our top eight for you to try out.

As New Zealanders navigate lockdown over the next four weeks, keeping in touch with you in touch with your friends, whanau and your communities is important now more than ever.

So as virtual catch ups become the norm, what’s the best way to chat to cousins, gossip with granny or see your friends' faces? Internet based text and video calling apps are the best way to get that (virtual) quality time with the ones you love.

From well-known apps that have been around for years, like Skype, to the new up and comers that add a little extra fun, such as Houseparty, there’s an app for you. Or why not download them all and give each one a go to find which one suits your style of communication.


Skype logo

Skype has been around for years and probably doesn’t need an introduction – it’s one of the most used apps to stay connected with people around the world. It works on a wide range of devices and is one of the most reliable video chat apps.


· Send photos, text, videos, voice messages, and much more.

· Call any device, Skype, mobile, or landline.

· Keep your family and friends updated with the highlights from your day.

· Enjoy low calling rates to landlines and mobile phones across the globe.

Download: Android, iOS

Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messanger logo

Pretty much as famous as Facebook and the messaging app of choice for Kiwis, it’s also one of the most reliable. Facebook Messenger is available for free through any web browser logged into your Facebook account.


· Using either names or phone numbers, you can easily find your friends.

· Works across devices and operating systems. Connect with people internationally within no time.

· Add fun art, stickers and effects to your pictures and videos and share them instantly with your connections.

Download: Android, iOS


WhatsApp logo

After proving it was one of the best messaging apps around, WhatsApp came up with another feature: video calling. It’s a cross-platform app, which means it doesn’t matter if your friends or family use iPhones and you use a Samsung – you can use WhatsApp to argue about which one is better!


· Video call or voice call, it is completely free.

· Share documents, images, videos, and much more with its multimedia feature.

· Download WhatsApp on your computer and start receiving messages.

· Can easily set custom wallpapers, notification ringtones, etc.

Download: Android, iOS


Houseparty logo

Houseparty is an app that allows you to video chat and play virtual games like Heads Up! and Quick Draw! (i.e. Pictionary) with your friends and family.

The app was created in 2016, but has increased in popularity as friends find new ways to chat to each other as the world goes into lockdown.

In the past week, the app has gone from being ranked number 304 in the social networking section of the Apple Store to being its most downloaded free app!

· Video call with up to 8 users at a time, completely free.

· Play games like Heads Up! and Quick Draw! with your friends

If you’re new to Houseparty, check out how to get started here: https://www.businessinsider.com.au/how-to-use-houseparty-to-see-friends-during-coronavirus-outbreak-2020-3?r=US&IR=T

Download: Android, iOS


Facetime logo

The one for iPhones. This app is designed by Apple specifically for iOS devices. It makes it super easy to connect with people, wherever they are in the world – as long as they’re also an iPhone user. You are just one click away from making a high-quality video call to any iPhone, iPad, or Mac device.


· Make High Definition (HD) video calls up to 720p.

· Get incoming calls on your iOS devices even when FaceTime isn’t running.

· Receive incoming calls on all your Mac devices so it makes it easy for you to answer.

Download: iOS

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts logo

Hangouts is an excellent video calling app and perfect for die hard Google fans. Hangouts lets you connect with up to 9 people at once (10 people total). There's no need to sign up for a new account if you already have one. And it isn't just for Android powered smartphones and tablets, Hangouts can be installed on iOS devices as well.


· Include all your contacts with group chats for up to 150 people.

· It can turn any group conversation into a video call with up to 10 people.

· App works on Android and iOS devices, and syncs chats across all your devices.

· Easily connect Google voice account for phone calls, SMS, and voicemail integration.

Download: Android, iOS


WeChat logo

WeChat (or Wexin in China) has grown from a voice messaging platform into a truly one stop shop for everything in your online life – mobile payments, maps and so much more. No wonder there are more than 1 billion monthly users in China! At its core it's a great text and video calling app, letting you connect easily with family and friends across the world.


· Free voice and video calls to anywhere in the world.

· Provides the highest level of control over your privacy as it is certified by TRUSTe.

· Users can also share their pictures on their personal photo stream.

· Localised in nearly 20 different languages.

Download: Android, iOS


Viber logo

Launched back in 2013, and with 11 million downloads, Viber is another popular text and video calling app. It can be used by both iOS and Android users and has heaps of useful features, in addition to voice, video and text messaging, like stickers, emojis and more.


· Free international video and voice calling.

· Add eye-catching and funny emojis and cool stickers to your texts.

· Hide the messages from the messaging screen that you don’t want others to see and access them later.

· The automatic encryption secures your messages, video and voice calls, texts, etc.

Download: Android, iOS

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