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What is the best way to make a video call from your Android device to a Windows, Mac, or Linux desktop computer, or an iPhone, or a Windows Phone? Since the arrival of Skype video calling, more and more companies have attempted to get in on the act, some good, some bad, but all claiming to offer video calling in addition to voice and instant messaging.

Which apps should you install for free cross-platform video calls that won’t cause issues for the person you’re calling? We’ve taken a look at five popular apps to see how good they are, and whether they’re truly cross-platform.

The Bar Is Set: Skype

As the leader in this area, Microsoft’s Skype is the app by which we compare all others. With versions for all three major desktop platforms, and for the main three mobile platforms, Skype is the big player. It’s easy to pickup your mobile and make a video call to a friend on their PC How To Video Chat Between An Android Phone And A PC How To Video Chat Between An Android Phone And A PC Chatting with mobile phones is nothing new. Folks have been using instant messaging on their mobile phones almost as long as there have been mobile phones. When it comes to video chatting, you're looking at... Read More , smartphone or tablet. The Xbox One Microsoft Xbox One Review And Giveaway Microsoft Xbox One Review And Giveaway The console wars are officially raging, and we've had sufficient time with both of them. That begs the question: how does the Xbox One compare? Read More , PlayStation Vita, and various Smart TVs also have Skype apps.

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With the ability to share files as well as talk to people, Skype has become a major collaboration tool over the past few years, its main rival in this space being Google Hangouts. Skype is also a popular choice for podcasters, with call recording tools proving particularly useful (you can even add sound effects to group calls using tools like Voicemeeter). Video calls can also be recorded.

It’s fair to say that Skype performance wasn’t initially great after Microsoft purchased the service and abandoned the peer-to-peer data networking model, but evidently the tech giant has been working hard in this area. Simple to use, yet packed with features, Android users can get to grips with Skype in just a few minutes How To Use Skype On Android For Beginners How To Use Skype On Android For Beginners Want to learn how to use Skype on your Android device for voice and video calls? Look no further. Read More .

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As a cross-platform solution, Skype is unmatched (and probably the most secure of all video chat solutions Use These Skype Privacy Settings to Secure Your Account Use These Skype Privacy Settings to Secure Your Account Is your Skype account secure? Do you have the best privacy settings configured on your desktop or mobile Skype app? We look at how to secure your account when using the popular VOIP service. Read More ), but the various alternatives come very close.

Google Hangouts

Via the Chrome browser, Google Hangouts can be used on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux (you can use the Hangouts add-on if you’re a Firefox user). Mobile users on iOS (iPhone and iPad) can take advantage of its messaging, voice, and video chat service, but if you’re using Windows Phone, Google Hangouts isn’t an option thanks to Google’s almost total lack of support for Microsoft’s mobile platform. This may change with Windows 10 for mobile, but until then, Windows Phone users are excluded.

Android users, of course, enjoy Hangouts as a pre-installed bonus, and naturally, the Chrome OS platform is supported too.

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As video chatting goes, the standard is just as high as Skype’s, if not better. Naturally, quality depends on the connection strength and bandwidth of the participants, and if you’re interested in recording the discussion for later (perhaps as a learning or collaborative tool) applications are available to help here. You can also use the Hangouts on Air feature to webcast the call on YouTube Google+ Hangouts Can Now Be Shared Live And Saved To YouTube [Updates] Google+ Hangouts Can Now Be Shared Live And Saved To YouTube [Updates] Read More .

Google Hangouts also supports the sharing of files for collaboration, which it does by utilizing Google Drive. The lack of support for Windows Phone is the only shortcoming with this video call service, which we reckon is the best all-in-one messaging and calling app for Android The Best All-In-One Messaging & Calling App For Android: Google Hangouts The Best All-In-One Messaging & Calling App For Android: Google Hangouts What if there was one app that could do it all? Meet Google Hangouts for Android. Read More .

Tango

Sadly, Tango can’t really claim any sort of cross platform reputation as it supports only iOS, Android, Blackberry, Kindle, Windows Phone (7.5 and later) and Windows. Linux and Mac OS X are of course conspicuous by their absence, especially when Blackberry and Kindle apps are available.

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It isn’t all bad news though. First and foremost, cross-platform video calling is available, along with voice and instant messaging. Meanwhile, Tango Out is a limited service for calling landlines and mobile phones around the world, offering 20 free minutes.

One-to-one video calls with Tango have the same strengths and weaknesses as Skype, really, with good quality pictures punctuated with lags and choppy audio. As with all of these apps, the best results come if both users are connected to WiFi rather than mobile Internet.

ooVoo

Attempting to outdo the competition, ooVoo claims that it is “everywhere” and offers apps for Amazon Fire devices, Android phones and tablets, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Mac OS X, Windows Phone, and Windows desktop.

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As many as 12 people can engage in a single video call, making ooVoo ideal for getting together with friends or family, or holding an online meeting. OoVoo also features a built in video call recording tool for PC users Goodbye, Skype: 4 Alternative VOIP Services You Can Record Calls With Goodbye, Skype: 4 Alternative VOIP Services You Can Record Calls With Can't record calls with Skype anymore? Recent changes that break support of third-party apps have left many users frustrated. Could now be the time to try an alternative VoIP call recording service? Read More , as well as the ability to watch YouTube videos as a group Tired Of Watching Videos Alone? Here Are The Best 3 Ways To Watch YouTube With Friends. Tired Of Watching Videos Alone? Here Are The Best 3 Ways To Watch YouTube With Friends. Are you someone who like to sit alone and watch all these online videos. Having some friends along to share your thoughts and reactions with is so much more fun. There are many ways to... Read More . Like Skype, ooVoo also has a credit purchase system for calling landlines.

But ooVoo isn’t perfect: there’s no Linux version, which comes as a bit of a surprise given the increasing popularity of Ubuntu and other distros. Having support for the Amazon Fire Phone isn’t exactly exciting — most people have never even seen that device in real life — so ignoring Linux seems unusual.

IMO

Should you have no need to video chat with a friend, relative or colleague while you (or they) are using a desktop computer, IMO messenger and video calling app is useful for chatting with your contacts as long as you’re all using iOS or Android.

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This limitation is a bit of a pain, but IMO does offer encrypted chats and calls, photo and video sharing, and stickers (obviously not actual stickers). As you might have guessed, IMO is pitched at a young, vibrant market of smartphone users rather than the more universal approach of the other apps.

Video call quality is as expected, but if you’re going to opt for IMO, look out for unsolicited messages, which are a real problem on the service, certainly as far as Android users are concerned.

What’s Your Favorite?

We think these five apps are the best free cross-platform video calling tools. But what do you think? Have you run into problems with any of them? Perhaps you have a better option? Tell us about it in the comments.

  1. MichaelRS
    December 9, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    Heard all this great stuff about Skype but my girlfriend already Oovoo on her Windows phone so I got Oovoo last summer. It worked okay for about 5 calls and then we started having trouble with the sound and eventually it came to the point in about the last 20 calls or call attempts I could not hear her at all.
    Meanwhile she had downloaded Skype to talk to her son at college so I downloaded it today and we tried it.

    There s no options for the app to make a video calls as there is no video icon and I have no idea how to get one.
    so far I have not found Skype very intuitive to use.

  2. andrew daves
    January 28, 2016 at 10:13 am

    In addition to above, you may also try R-HUB desktop video conferencing app.

  3. Dimitry Oleynichenko
    July 14, 2015 at 9:18 am

    try also mobile ICQ with videocalls

  4. Jan Hough
    July 7, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    What about Viber - a very popuar app amongst my acquaintances.

    • Christian Cawley
      July 9, 2015 at 9:54 am

      Good call, Jan. It's certainly a strong contender. Unfortunately we couldn't get results with it when researching this article, so omitted it, perhaps for a future post...

  5. Arul Mani
    July 3, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    very useful article :-)

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