Video call friends and family to stay in touch over Christmas

Video call from Santa on Christmas Ee

The countdown to Christmas is here! But with more of us living abroad, or with families living in and travelling to different parts of the world, we can easily get that FOMO feeling.

We’re big fans of video calling apps at Opera, since many of us are expats (or have just caught the travel bug) and it’s a great way to keep in touch with your loved ones no matter where you are.

Video call from Santa on Christmas Ee

Incoming video call from Santa & friends on Christmas Eve

So, here’s my guide to getting the right one, so you’ll be ready for the festive season:

Choose the right video calling app for you

Most video and voice calling apps are free to download and install on lots of different devices. If you haven’t started using video calling apps yet, or fancy trying something new, it’s a good idea to consider the following:

  • Popularity of the app – how many downloads does it have?
  • Compatibility with your device.
  • Do your friends/family already have it? Do they have the right device too?
  • Call quality – what do the app reviews say?
  • How the app handles your data – does the app use encryption, for example?

You can find most of the information you need on the app store listing or by giving it a quick Google. But let’s face it, getting a recommendation from someone who’s already tested it for you is even better! So, here are my top picks for video calling apps this year:

WhatsApp: a killer mobile video calling app

If you prefer to make video calls from your smartphone, WhatsApp is the go-to choice. Why? It’s extremely popular, with a user base of nearly a billion, which will only continue to grow. This means that soon all your friends will be there, if they’re not already, and you don’t have to waste time convincing people to download it. It’s easy to use (grandma approved!) and has a reputation for good call quality. So, find a cozy spot in your apartment and video call Grandma for some real-time advice on gingerbread baking!

Grandma video calling to check on you for Christmas

Get WhatsApp for: Android or iOS (or desktop versions for Mac and Windows PC).

Skype: the big screen video calling option

Arguably, Skype is still the leader in desktop video calling with a long-standing reputation. Again, the user base decides; Skype has a massive group of passionate and devoted users, which means this is the software most people you know are using. All around, the functionality is good, especially the call quality, so you won’t lose the last verse of your niece’s Christmas performance because of crappy video quality (but you can mute it if you want – I won’t tell).

You can even add more people to the call; check out this handy how-to video:

Get Skype for: AndroidiOS (or desktop versions for Windows, Mac or Linux).

Google Duo: the future of video calling?

Innovative as always, Google recently released a new app for one-to-one video calling with an interesting feature where you can see the caller live on your screen before you take the call.

Check out this review from TechCrunch from when they gave it a try 🙂

The video call quality was super good when I tried but, as always, it may depend on yours and your friend’s connection. Works on Wi-Fi or on-the-go.

For those who like to try out new apps – and being one step ahead of friends – this new kid on the block may be for you.

Get Google Duo for: Android or iOS.

So, my recommendation: get WhatsApp or Skype if you want a reliable video calling app that people already have and know how to use, or Google Duo if you want to introduce something new and fun to family and friends.

Slip a comment below if you’d like to recommend your own favorite video calling app – we are all ears! Happy holidays 🙂

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