8 Ways to Video Call for Free this Christmas
Connecting together for Christmas is going to be next to a screen this year as we continue the various levels of social distancing, lockdowns, and staying safe.
There are a number of tools that we can all use to watch each other open presents and sing carols (on mute) and even have movie nights together.
Formally ’Hangouts’, this platform is free and can have up to 32 people in a room. You can join via the phone app, Google Home Hubs, tablets or computers. I’d highly recommend this option as by far the easiest to use.
Everyone’s go-to office video chat software, that transitioned into home life despite often not being the most user friendly. Group calls have 40-minute limits unless you pay for extra.
The granddaddy of the video calls and perfect for a 2-party call. Free, easy, universally loved. Works well within phone and tablet apps as well as on the computer.
Easy to use, but only works through your iPhone, iPad, or MacBook and lets you call anyone on another Apple device.
FaceTime is automatically on your Apple device and is available as a calling option to anyone with a corresponding phone.
Facebook Messenger Rooms
In an attempt to take over another aspect of our digital lives, Facebook created ‘rooms’ where you can join the meeting via your personal account.
As Facebook takes security very seriously, here are some of their guidelines and tips for using their platform:
- Messenger Rooms can be locked or unlocked once a call begins.
- The room creator can remove any unwanted participants.
- Any participant can leave the room if they feel uncomfortable. Learn more about how to stay safe when using Messenger Rooms.
- Participants can report the room name if you believe it violates our Community Standards. Keep in mind that reports will not include audio or video from the room.
- If you have blocked someone on Facebook or Messenger, they won’t be able to join the same room as you if you and they are both logged into Facebook or Messenger. If you blocked someone’s messages or calls on Messenger, you will be notified if you’re about to join a room with the person you’ve blocked. You can then choose to join or not join the room. Remember that you can always leave a room.
- When a room creator broadcasts a room using Facebook Live, it is shared to Facebook and people outside the room may see what’s happening in the room. We may collect and review audio and video from the room’s broadcast to make sure they follow our Community Standards.
- Facebook Messenger Rooms on Desktop
- Facebook Messenger on Apple App Store
- Facebook Messenger on Google Play Store
Teleparty (Netflix) Watch Party
Connect your Netflix on your computer and chat while watching the movie. Quick way to ruin a film if you ask me!
In a similar fashion to the Google Home Hubs, you can connect to your family and friends through either a tabletop monitor/camera device or plug a Portal camera into your TV and use the screen to see the people on the other end of the call. The devices cost money but the calling service is free.
- How to get Facebook Portal devices
- Also accessible through Facebook Messenger (app/desktop)
Whether you’re using Instagram direct messages, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or even Snapchat, they all have the ability to video call your contacts. These are in-app only.
Even though it’s not as we’d imagined it, whoever you’re calling this Christmas, I hope the call is full of brightness, laughter, and cheer.