Have you recently made the switch from iPhone to an Android device? Missing the beloved iMessage and Facetime? Or perhaps you’re a devout Android user and wish people would stop using “Facetime” as a verb, like Xerox, or the nouns Kleenex and Coke. There are other brands, people! Video chat; photocopy; facial tissue; soda! Wow, I didn’t know that would strike such a nerve for me, sorry about that. Back to the task at hand.
Today, we’d like to share our favorite apps for Android that serve as great alternatives to Facetime. Because, as you may or may not have been aware, Facetime is an iOS exclusive, much like other apps inherent to all things Apple. And Facetime is a decent, solid app; but there are so very many other options out there for your video calling needs. We’ve gathered our top five for this offering.
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. — George Bernard Shaw
5 Best Facetime for Android Alternatives
If you’re a regular reader, you may have recently come across our offering of alternatives for iMessage. We mentioned in that article the showdown between Apple and the FBI over unlocking the phones of the San Bernardino shooters. Here’s how it’s currently playing out: the FBI requested Apple to write new operating system to unlock a couple of tightly sealed iPhones (pretty much every iPhone, right?) and Apple responded with a big fat “No.” And yet another huge divide was created, with developers and CEOs of Google, WhatsApp, Facebook, even Bill Gates coming out to support one side or the other. Here’s the latest Q & A from Apple. And that’s where it stands. A stand off. I will not claim to be a journalist and I know it’s not totally why you’re in this article, but I do think it’s important to stay abreast of this particular situation. Here’s the latest op-ed from Wired.
Now back to Facetime.
Oh, yes, this one seems like a no brainer. After all, not too long ago, we here at Appamatix published a list of Skype alternatives. So, when we’re writing about alternatives to Facetime (which is an alternative to Skype), it’s just a little bit of a mind trip to include it here: The alternative to the alternative to Skype is Skype. Wrap your head around that.
But hey, no list of video messengers will be complete without Skype. Skype is one of the big titans in the field, and whereas “Facetime” can be a verb among Apple users, “Skype” has even longer been a verb among Apple and PC users, like since 2003. So yes, Skype is there, and while it generally is nice to give a little attention the the apps and services that aren’t getting the attention, when it comes to a communications platform, ubiquity is a great thing: Sure, it may not be an interesting choice, but the fact that it’s everywhere means it’ll be more likely that the people you want to talk to are on it. If you have not used Skype and are less familiar with its many attributes, here’s a breakdown:
- It’s FREE! (Well, for the most part. International calls are competitively priced. But most importantly for the purposes of this article, video calls and group video calls are free to anyone else who has Skype and a webcam (or mobile device with a webcam).
- You can call landlines as well as other mobile devices.
- You can share files and photos of any size.
- You can also message in the app (or from your desktop).
- There is a screen sharing option for when you’re collaborating (or talking your grandma thru how to use Skype).
- Over 300 million users. You don’t generally have to beg people to join Skype because they’ve probably had it for a hot minute.
But maybe you’ve done Skype and you’re, well, done with it. Read on!
From one titan to another! Though in this case, the titan isn’t so much the app as it is the company behind it. Facetime is Apple, Skype is Microsoft’s, and Hangouts is, of course, Google! The great thing about Google apps is how well they all integrate with some of the most common web services you’re using. Sign into Google, and you’re signed into Gmail, YouTube, Drive, Docs… And all manageable from the same menus, and using very similar interfaces. Hangouts adds to that great integration experience.
- It’s FREE! (Again, free calls to other Hangouts users).
- Straightforward and clean interface (had a major facelift over the years).
- Exemplary audio.
- Up to 10 separate users in a group chat.
- Emoji, stickers and filters included.
Of course, there are going to be those who (with good reason) aren’t comfortable with putting all of the communication eggs into Google’s basket. Well, fortunately, we’ve still got a couple of alternatives left.
Viber is one that we’ve talked about before. Viber is a pretty solid VoIP, for those of you who are looking for ways to make voice calls without eating into your minutes. It’s video messenger is not quite up to par with Facetime, but since it is available on a broader system of platforms, it’ll be much less exclusive for a user, as you can link up with friends using more than just iOS devices. But the quality of voice calls are better than any of the others on the list, including Facetime. I feel like Viber gets the shaft sometimes, like, people think it is a WhatsApp knockoff. It’s not.
- It’s FREE! (Well, you know the drill. All of these are “relatively” free, with in-app purchases).
- Doesn’t use as much data as some of the others (when not connected to Wi-fi).
- Wide user base: over 600 million.
- In-app games!
So, one of the big things about developing for Android versus developing for iOS is that the closed-system presented by iOS gives developers a higher number of known qualities going in. There’s a lot less deviation in system stats from iPhone to iPhone (or from iPad to iPad) than you’re going to find when you switch from Android handset to Android handset (before you even take into account the distinct OS builds that different service providers may, um, provide.)
I say that because Tango is a bit of a rare bird insofar as it was developed primarily for Android devices. So with developers who need to be a little resource-conservative (since they’re never sure exactly what configuration their package is going to be run on) you get an app that does pretty well with system optimization. Another great thing about Tango is its UI is pretty smooth. With Tango, you don’t have to juggle your phone in order to interface with any of its functions (which may be scattered all over the screen). No, all of Tango’s functions are arranged nicely within thumb range, towards the bottom of the screen.
- FREE! (You know the drill).
- Works for both phones and tablets.
- Stickers, filters, and games.
- 200 million users.
- After Skype, the oldest (2009) voIP app, so they’ve had time to perfect this.
ooVoo is a pretty slick app, and one that functions well even if you don’t have the most extreme, upgraded internet package that your ISP provides. It’s particularly good for those of you who want to talk to multiple people at once. And by multiple people, I don’t mean two or three. With ooVoo, you can talk to up to a dozen people in one call. Some users have reported connectivity issues, which is annoying, but when the connection is there, it comes with excellent picture quality, audio quality, and frame rates. If you’re not sure you want to roll those dice, rest assured that there is a free version you can use. As is the case with the majority of apps, you can pay a monthly fee ($2.99) in order to clear the app of ads.
Nobody likes invasive ads, and I find them most annoying apps in like these. I’m perfectly fine if there’s some advert for Clash of Clans floating harmlessly above my Pandora session or my graphing calculator. But when I’m talking to my mother, or consoling a friend after the loss of a loved one, it annoys me to see the ad down there. It’s like “This tender moment of humanity is brought to you by Fire Age!”
- Up to a dozen in group calls.
- Free with other ooVoo users.
- Monitors connection speed, fewer dropped calls.
- Superb audio and video quality.
I would like to throw out some honorable mentions here, because five is not enough and if you’ve read some of my other “alternative” articles, you know I just can’t stick to whatever number I’ve set as the total. I just like lots and lots of options. So, another great Facetime alternative is Line. Of course, there’s always Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp. But you may be over those. We also wanted to recommend Imo.
And now to you. What’s your go-to video chat app? What do all the Android users out there love to use? Please feel free to comment below your favorite Facetime alternatives and share this article with others.