A woman video chatting on her smartphone.

As a result of COVID-19 and social distancing, more people are turning to video-chat apps for help with gatherings, everything from connecting kids with their grandparents to meeting friends for virtual happy hours.

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For users of iPhones and other Apple devices, choosing a video-chat app is no problem. FaceTime is easy to use and is built into every iPhoneiPad, and Apple computer on the market.

But what do you do if grandma owns an Android phone?

FaceTime works only on Apple devices.

No need to worry. A handful of free apps work on both operating systems. Better yet, the three options below use end-to-end-encryption, which is designed to protect you and your personal data from digital snoops. 

Video-Chat Apps

Skype: Originally released in 2003, this global call-and-text app was purchased by Microsoft in 2011. It offers both audio and video calling.

Skype can be downloaded to smartphones, tablets, and computers. It's Alexa compatible and can be accessed via web browser and even on an Xbox gaming console.

If you’re using the app for work, it has features that allow you to host up to 50 people, share what's on your screen, and record the proceedings. It also offers live captioning, a nice extra for multitaskers and the hearing-impaired.

Google Duo: This app comes standard on most Android phones and is available for downloading in Apple’s app store. It can be used on phones, tablets, computers (including via web browser), and smart speakers with displays, like the Google Nest Hub Max.

Less business-focused than Skype, Google Duo lets you chat with up to eight people. If the person you’re calling doesn’t pick up, you can leave a quick video message.

Messenger: While many people use this app to send private, email-like messages to Facebook friends, it also offers a built-in video-chat feature. Any calls made over a WiFi connection are free, but standard data charges apply to those placed via cellular service.

The app provides fun Snapchat-like filters and allows you to doodle on your videos, too.

If you prefer not to download the Messenger app, you can place audio and video calls through Facebook’s desktop website. Just open up a message window with one of your Facebook friends and click on the phone or camera icon in the upper-right-hand corner.

Facebook also owns WhatsApp Messenger, which offers similar features. You don't need to have a Facebook account to use it. It's tied to your phone number instead.