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    02 September 2021

    Nafisa Akabor

    The best group video calling apps

    The best thing about video calls is that you’re not bound to a desk and can join in from an Android or iPhone.

    Video calling apps have exploded in popularity during the pandemic out of necessity. It is more convenient to join a video call than drive to an in-person meeting, despite lockdown levels easing up. The best thing about video calls is that you’re not bound to a desk and can join in from an Android or iPhone. Just make sure you’re on a good-quality WiFi connection and that your apps are optimised for video calling; lose the low-quality settings.

    Here are our picks:

    Telegram

    At the end of July, Telegram said its group broadcast videos will now support up to 1 000 viewers. While it sounds overkill, it could be useful to content creators, media or for teaching. Its regular call feature allows unlimited participants but limited to the first 30 who opt to turn it into a video call. It also supports screen share, noise suppression, and the ability to pin a video.

    Google Meet

    The Google Meet app is free for all users up to 100 participants for up to 60 minutes. Calls are encrypted and have a built-in noise-cancelling audio filter, with video quality supporting up to 720p. You can also share your screen, broadcast events or host larger meetings. A highly underrated feature is live captions, which is great for inclusivity or if you find it difficult to pay attention after a day full of meetings.

    VIDEO CALL

    WhatsApp

    One of the most popular messaging apps is WhatsApp with over two billion users worldwide. Unlike other apps, it allows a maximum of eight people to participate in a group video call. There are three ways to start a group video call, from a group, the calls tab or an individual chat where you can add more participants. It supports end-to-end encryption by default and users can toggle between audio and video or mute themselves.

    FaceTime

    At WWDC 2021, Apple announced that FaceTime will be supported on the web with the release of iOS15. This essentially means that Android and Windows users can accept a FaceTime call via mobile or web browsers but only an iOS user can initiate the call. For group chats, the limit is up to 32 people. FaceTime lets users switch between audio and video and will support voice isolation. Features like Memoji and Animojis work on iPhone X upwards. It will also support SharePlay, to share content like music, movies or TV shows.

    Zoom

    A firm favourite during the pandemic is Zoom, which is supported across mobile, desktop and other hardware. The free version for anyone allows up to 100 users to have a meeting with a 40-minute time limit, though a one-on-one call has no time limit. Participants can blur backgrounds, enhance appearance with filters, touch up looks or reduce background noise. Users can also record the meeting, share their screens and choose if they want to have video turned on. If a profile picture is set, it will be used when video is turned off.

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    Nafisa Akabor