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Choosing a Video Chat App

Factors to Consider When Choosing an App for Video Calling


Teenage couple enjoying video chat on laptop
Robert Daly/OJO Images/Getty Images

Video chat has become very common for communicators of all types, from individuals doing social networking to professionals finding in video conferencing a way to avoid expensive travels and save precious time on having meetings with people at different remote places. There are many things you need to be able to make a nice video chat session, and one of these is the app you use for the matter. Here are factors you need to consider before downloading and installing an app.

The Service Behind

There is nothing much you can do with a video chat app if there is no VoIP service behind that connects you to other people and monitor the communication with them. There are some apps out there which give you just that – the app without the service – but those would fit more for corporate environments that already have a service (hosted or using a PBX) and just need the software to be deployed company-wide. Users like you and I need something with a service behind. So, inquire about what it offers, what is free and what is not, the limitations and features and so on. You normally get that information in reviews of the apps and services. Examples of video chat apps with services are Skype, Yahoo! Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, ooVoo etc.

The Cost

Are you looking for a free app? Or are you a manager who is looking for a clean and powerful app with additional enhanced features, even at a cost? The cost is often linked with the features. For instance, to make video calls with more than one person at a time, you might need to upgrade to a pro version, and who says pro says paid.

The Features

Features are what give the cutting edge to products, especially voice and video apps. There are the basic features that all of them bring, and then what is offered beyond that makes the difference. Some apps will have you pay for some additional features, especially those that would fit for businesses. Among the very common features you will want to look for are: voice and video support, text support, contact list management and integration, chat rooms, emoticons, text effects, ability to use the app with SIP services etc.

Among the features are those that are specific to video. For example, some apps give you features to record your video calls. Another feature is to record the video and later on stream it. There are more technical considerations to video chatting like the codecs used, whether it is HD, quality of service (QoS) etc.


Whether you are a geek or a layperson, it is important for the app’s interface to be easy to use and user-friendly. For some, it is a question of quickly finding their way through and thus rendering the learning slope less steep, while for others, the common repetitive features need just to be within reach for a simple and more human experience. You don’t want an app whose interface is incoherent, complex, unintuitive and unpleasant for the eyes.

Hardware and Software Requirements

Does the app run on your hardware? Video calling apps are bound to be relatively bulkier than their voice or text counterparts and require a decent amount of RAM and processing power. Also, check your graphics hardware and web cam; what you have may be just below the basic requirement line for your target app.

If you are downloading the app on a mobile device, like a smartphone or tablet, make sure the make and model are supported.

Compatibility is an important issue when coming to software. You might fancy an app but there may not be a version for the operating system you are running.


You want to have some people out there whom you can cry out to whenever there is a problem with the app. If you are paying for it, make sure there is good after sales support. Free apps don’t need that (and don’t expect to have people waiting to get your wheels out of the sand for something they gave away for free). You have plenty of other people already using it and already blabbing a lot about it. By the way, this is a very good way of acquiring elements for deciding on an app – read forums and reviews, listen to what existing users have to say about it.

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