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.
Video chatting, on the other hand, is only really starting to take off in a big way now that mobile data networks are really starting to expand in bandwidth. Trying to squeeze streaming video from a 2 megapixel camera over a 2G mobile data line was one thing, but streaming 5 megapixel video through a 4G data network or higher is a whole different story.
If you’re running an Android, you’ve got lots to choose from for sending and receiving IM through your data network instead of using up your allotted texts. Fring or Imo are two good options.
When it comes to video chatting, you’re looking at a whole different set of choices. I’ve run through about 5 different apps that promise to deliver video chatting well, but narrowed it down to two that actually do.
Two Android Apps for Video Chatting
There is one particular app that deserves an honorable mention, because I’ve used it for so many years. I just assumed that Skype would make the very top of the list when it comes to video chatting because it has always outperformed my expectations when it came to voice chatting and conferencing.
Skype offers an app on Google Play that claims you can use it to make free Skype-to-Skype video calls, in addition to regular text chatting and voice of course.
However, when I installed the app and tried to initiate a video chat between my Android and our home PC (using two different accounts obviously), I had the hardest time to get the PC Skype app to see the video stream from the phone app.
The Skype application on my computer could see that my phone account was logged in and I could initiate a video call. The call initiated a regular chat, but the video stream remained blank.
Maybe there was something buried in the Skype settings on the desktop app that might have gotten the whole thing working, but in my book if it’s really that complicated to get it to work right, then it doesn’t belong on the list of best mobile video chatting apps.
Video Chatting with Qik
A few years ago, Grant wrote about Qik, and I wrote about using it to integrate video into your blog. The truth is, Qik was not only one of the best video streaming apps back then, but it’s also a really cool way to have a video chat with family or friends when you’re on the road.
Thewill let you stream live video to the web instantly, but the app also includes a “Video Chat” option that you can use when you just want to stream privately to people and chat with them.
I happened to already have another Qik account, so with the Qik web app I can just initiate a call with my home user account.
If you’re traveling and want to keep in touch with your kids or your spouse, just have then sign up with their own Qik account and they can chat with you right on the website. They can also install the Qik Desktop app if you think you’ll be using this often.
The web version is probably the fastest and most convenient way to stay in touch with others on the Qik network. Here I am connected from the website to my mobile that’s streaming live video to Qik in the other room.
As you can see, chat is underneath the video stream on the site, and the chat comments show up under your picture on the phone. One weakness of Qik is the text chat kinda sucks. On the other hand, it would be better to just set up your phone as a video/audio stream, and then use a second laptop to view the video stream of the person you’re chatting with.
Better-yet, if you’re using an Android tablet or phone with a camera on the face of the device, then you can just use the mobile for the video chat. No typing required.
Video Chat with Paltalk Mobile
Of these two options for video chatting with your Android, I think Paltalk Mobile is my favorite. Paltalk Mobile is a high-quality IM app that runs fast on the mobile and includes a small video chat icon next to all of your online friends that have a Paltalk Mobile account.
Just click the video chat icon and you’re connected. The video chat with PalTalk ran really fast for me, with little lag, which was pretty impressive considering it was over 3G.
The tradeoff for that speed is that your transmitted video as seen on the desktop PC isn’t quite as high-resolution as a desktop webcam would be.
With that said, the stream runs fast, chatting is really easy and fun, and includes a highly-functional text chat if that’s what you prefer. Audio controls are located right on the text chat icon bar.
The Paltalk Messenger app would be the fastest and easiest way for your family to connect with you, and it runs just like a regular IM service right in the task bar.
If you’re on a business trip, just make sure your family has this running on your PC, and you can send them a chat request notification any time. Have a video chat from the hotel, say hi to your wife or husband and say goodnight to your kids. Being able to see them and talk to them really makes the trip much less painful.
By the way, an added feature of Paltalk is that it is very much an application that promotes chatting – as in chatting with strangers all around the world on a really wide range of topics.
So, if you have a concern about letting your young kids use such an app (which is a valid concern), then this video chatting option may not be best for you. If you’re looking for one of the fastest and easiest ways to use your Android to have a video chat with your friends though, this is one of the best options out there.
Are you into video chat, or do you still prefer text or voice? Are either of these your favorite, or do you have some other app you use to video chat with friends and family? Share your thoughts and insight in the comments area below.
Image Credit: A Happy Family Via Shutterstock