Top 10 Alternatives to FaceTime for Android
What are the alternatives to FaceTime for Android? Whether you are an Android addict jealous of FaceTime or a recent convert from iPhone who misses some iOS features, well, my friend, you've come to the right place. Here is a collection of ten alternatives for you to happily video call your friends and family across the globe. These are also essential for those of you who have long-distance relationships, trust me some are must haves!
As most of us know there are only really two major operating systems on the market, iOS and Android. Both have their respective pros and cons, and which one is the best really does come down to personal choice that is often reflected in the type of OS you use on your home computer. Both operating systems have a massive swathe of features and applications that outperform their competitor's. FaceTime, for example, is a very good feature of iOS that some "feel" is left lacking on Android, but is this true?
FaceTime is a very stable video calling service, but does require WiFi connection and can only call other iOS smart devices. It has gained a lot of popularity and is very user-friendly and works seamlessly with your iPhone, as you'd expect. It is, however, restricted to iOS devices. There are plenty of alternatives for Android, some arguably considerably better.
In the following article, we'll take a look at some great alternatives for your precious Android device. Without further ado here is our list of ten Alternatives to FaceTime for Android.
[Image Source: Pixabay]
Google's Hangouts service provides both real-time chatting and video. It has the advantage of utilizing your Google ID to allow it work across many platforms, which is nice. It works great on your Android phone, your home PC or even your Mac Desktop! This application replaced Google Talk as the native application for Gmail a couple of years back and it has undergone refinement every since, as you'd expect.
Hangout works beyond simple person-to-person connections and supports multiple-person conversations for up to 10 members. There is also a mobile version for iOS if you want to test against FaceTime. Google Hangouts has an advantage over FaceTime through its data latency management. This allows you to use it over your regular network data connection rather than restrict you to use over WiFi. This is a real boon. To top it off, Hangouts voice calls are completely free! You can also message-chat 100 people at the same time!
You will need a Google ID to use the service, of course, we doubt this is a problem for most readers. This lets you keep your address book in order and lets you merge all of your message streams in one easy-to-follow feed. There are complaints about occasional glitches and bugs during calls, but they appear to be rare. Given the ability to work without WiFi, these glitches are hardly a deal breaker.
What are the alternatives to FaceTime for Android? For most people, Skype is probably one of the first you'll mention. It has been around since 2003 and can be thought of as the long-toothed veteran of video chat services. Skype still holds strong in the market and for a good reason. It used to share a back end of the music sharing system Kazaa. Skype grew steadily in 2011 and when it was acquired by Windows to replace Windows Live Messenger. This makes it the standard service for Windows OS phones and is very reliable on other platforms.
Early versions of Android didn't work perfectly with your phone's address book and adding contacts was less than easy. The 5.0 update in 2014 finally sorted this out, however. It now works harmoniously with Android and gives you easy access to your existing contents.
Skype's video chat services work over a variety of bandwidths and keep very good call quality. You can always rate the call quality once you've finished up and depended on the hardware to hand calls can be in HD. Basic accounts with Skype provide free and unlimited one-to-one calls with other Skype users across the world. Multi-user video chat used to be a premium service but it is now included in the basic service. They will charge per minute or via a monthly subscription for calls to phones outside of the Skype service. For remote workers, this service is very stable and relatively cheap compared to some VOIP services depending on where you're calling of course.
Skype is one of the better alternatives to FaceTime for Android. If my parents can use it easily, then what more can you say? It is not so good for messaging though but its primary focus is video calling anyway.
Viber is one of those applications that has added some great services as time progresses. Viber began as a simple text and audio messaging app but wanted to move into video calls too. Initially, Viber attempted to replicate Skype's audio chatting services but added video in 2014. Although relatively new to the market, they have managed to build a strong brand to compete with the likes of Skype and FaceTime.
One of its standout features is its clean and intuitive UI design. Skype and Google Hangouts can comparatively seem a little clunky and legacy desktop in design and user experience. These guys effectively converted their services for mobile but Viber has been built from the ground up for these devices. Viber does have a desktop version if you want to try it but their focus is on mobile.
Viber does have some weaknesses, however. You cannot communicate with users outside of its service, which may not be a deal breaker for some. Other platforms do use SMS protocol which Viber does not, so you can't send messages to users who aren't also Viber users. This doesn't mean that Viber is niche, it has around 280 million users worldwide.
No not Google's AR Project Tango, this is a distinctly different thing. If you want a fully fledged replacement of FaceTime for Android, Tango might the way to go. You'll also need friends who are willing to switch to this as well. It was initially released in 2009 and unlike others on the list Tango is built specifically for Android. There are iOS versions and Windows versions but Google's Android is its native platform. This gives you great hardware optimization, smooth user experience and excellent call quality.
It is over WiFi only but you can interact with over 200 million users worldwide without the need of a cellular connection. Tango supports voice calls, video calls, text and image chats. It's free to sign up and the process is pretty slick. Like other services on this list, you can send invite messages to friend and family so you can all take "jump ship" to Tango. Video chats are only one-to-one at present.
Tango's developers like to believe that their app isn't just for communication but a social network in its own right. You can have a public profile, news feed, games etc etc. Tango is as good as FaceTime for Android but is much much more, if you like that sort of thing.
Ever heard of ooVoo? Maybe you have but for most, it might as well be in Greek. This is one of the latest up and coming video chat services on the market. It is rapidly building traction and has a large user base. ooVoo was initially launched on Windows in 2007, moved to mobile in 2011, first on iOS and later on accommodated Android. The company made their SDK public in 2013 allowing developers to add ooVoo video chatting functions to their own apps! Nice! This allowed them to grow their user base and push their tech into the public domain.
This application has a very robust group video chatting interface and can effortlessly support up to 12 people. Audio is very good and has noise attenuation algorithms to prevent static from overwhelming conversations. It is a fairly small app and uses minimal bandwidth and this works well ver 3G connections. Clearly, WiFi gives you a better connection.
Just like Skype, ooVoo allows you to place calls to other users for free but you can buy credits to call phone lines. The service is add-supported but you can remove these for $2.99 a month. Paying the subscription also increase your storage space on their servers to 1,000 minutes. The adverts aren't really that intrusive, to be honest.
Line is a nice solid and user-friendly text, voice and video calling service. Line is very popular and is used by millions of people every day. Its video feature is very stable and works very well. Line focusses more on messaging than audio and video, however. You can get a plethora of stickers and other features to improve your texting experience. Line is cross platform and well worth a try.
Like Whatsapp and Viber you register your phone number which, once complete, allows you to make use of Line's free instant messaging and other features. Line has made a serious reputation in Asia and the West since launch and has over 200 million users worldwide. Like other apps on the list, you get unlimited free calls to other users as well as free messages. It does offer paid calls to mobile and landlines and has a small social network around its service. Line is the usual go-to where Viber and WhatsApp are restricted by your country's government.
The app is cross-platform and is very easy to use and can be relatively unknown in some parts of the world.
WeChat is another very popular communication app out there which can be an alternative to FacTime for Android. To date, it has around 100 million users worldwide. WeChat is a complete communication package and offers voice calls, texting and of course video calling. It is cross platform and all its services are free to use. It has some unique features such as group chats for up to 500 people, stickers and the like. Video calls are free from anywhere in the world between users, as you'd expect.
WeChat is one of the fastest growing apps in Asia, notably China. Probably not surprising since it's a Chinese company. This app recently crossed the 50 million user mark over a relatively short period of time. It is ram-packed with interesting features and is now one of the most downloaded applications in India, Malaysia, the Philippines and Mexico. It recorded a 200% increase in downloads in the UAE within a month of its release. Not bad!
Like other apps here you can call mobiles and landlines but this is obviously a paid service. You can also have multi-person video calls of up to 9 users.
Zangi is one of the newer apps on the market but deserves its place on our list. To date, it's not as popular as other apps on our list but it will see growth over the next few years. It is a very solid and reliable application and is best known for its video calling ability over low data networks such as 2G and Edge. Zangi does have a few security features to boot. For those with lower spec phones, this is probably the best choice on the list.
This application, like others, has full end-to-end encryption making calling and messaging loved ones very secure. Which is nice to know. You can feel safe that your conversations are not being tapped into by anyone else! Zangi also claims that they have increased security because your contacts and message logs are not stored on any of their servers. It also has low data consumption feature to cut down on roaming costs of data use. For instance, you can make a 7-minute call for only 1MB of data. Zangi has an easy to use interface making it a unique tool on the market.
One of the lesser known alternatives to FaceTime for Android, ICQ is a great little app. It offers video calling for free and works very well with limited stuttering and other issues. ICQ is similar to Hangouts and offers group chatting, messaging, calling and even HD video chat. This app is cross platform but it allows you to message across OS's so long as the app is installed. This does have some minor issues however like syncing problems with other applications. Other than that its a very solid video calling app and worth checking out.
ICQ is an app that strives to merge many social network features with text messaging into one package. As ambitious as this sounds it appears to have done a very good job. The application does drain your battery very quickly, however. There are also reports by some users of dropped chat messages, so beware.
ICQ gives you free secure video chats and high-quality voice calls, it also syncs across all of your devices. You can group chat with family and friends. ICQ lets you send 3D animated stickers on video calls, which is nice if you like that sort of thing. Video calls can be made in HD with low data usage, it also incorporates speech recognition. ICQ offers unlimited chat members and your entire chat history can be viewed across all your devices.
Whatsapp is probably one of the most popular apps on our list of alternatives to FaceTime for Android. It is a very reliable and stable application. It's completely free to use and very secure. For those of you who travel overseas a lot, this application is one of the easiest to use for keeping in touch with your loved ones and friends. It is regularly updated with new features and has a very easy to use interface and synchronises with your address book flawlessly. Like other apps on the list, it allows for text, audio and video calling and it is pretty slick.
Audio calls can have some lag depending on your internet connection and especially over cellular network data connections, however over WiFi is pretty reliable. Its great strength is its messaging feature which allows for text, audio, video and image sharing and messaging. This part of the application is very stable and gone unchanged for several years. Like other apps on the list, you can send your friends an invitation to join and the whole process is very easy and straightforward.
For messaging, audio and video clip sending this app is one of the better ones on the list. It syncs very well with your phone's file systems and is very intuitive to use. This is one of the few apps on the list that we would recommend for the less tech savvy user. Audio and video calls are not as stable as say, Skype, but that's not a deal breaker. It might be better to supplement the downsides of an app like Skype to use a messenger only app and take advantage of the video calling abilities of Skype. But that's just our opinion.
Honourable mention: Glide
Glide is a little different to other entries on the list. It combines the convenience of texting with "expressiveness" of video chat. Technically speaking, it's a service for recording a video message rather than a video calling application. Glide lets you record and send as well as receive and watch video messages. This clearly isn't a live video chatting streaming service. If you like apps that let you send video messages rather than text messages instead of live video calls then this might be a good choice. If you do, however, want live video chatting you're better off with other entries on our list of alternatives to FaceTime for Android.
Alternatives to FaceTime for Android: Discussion
So there you go. You don't need to feel hard done by with the lack of FaceTime for Android! Psst... many on here are actually better anyway! I personally never use FaceTime on my iPhone and much prefer the service provided by Skype and Whatsapp, but I am a bit of a stick in the mud. For long distance relationships, overseas family and friends and remote working you want to have service that is reliable and has very good call quality.
Sound quality will be completely dependent on the speakers within your device and the screen size which can really affect the user experience for most. At the end of the day whichever you choose, it will be down to personal taste and needs. I personally use a mixture of Skype for free video calls and pay the premium service to get cheap landline/mobile calls and Whatsapp for texting. This combination has worked well for years and until one service provider gives me free landline calls anywhere in the world I am unlikely to "jump ship". But that's just me.
Alternatives to FaceTime for Android: Final word(s)
Depending on what you are looking for there should be an app here to suit your needs. If you primarily used FaceTime for video calling then apps like Skype, Google Hangouts and ooVoo might be your best choices. The older and more established applications on the list will give you peace of mind about connectivity and call quality, especially in places with poor internet speeds. For me, Skype has been invaluable for many years.
If you want a service that provides a quasi-social media network feel then apps like ICQ might be the way to go. Most apps on here are pretty much like for like but they do vary in user experience. For those with low spec or older smartphones Zangi is probably your best bet. All in all your choice of any of these will completely come down to your personal preference and of course your friends and family's willingness to use the same application on their devices. Trust me this can be a pain to sell to them!
What about you? Do you use any of these yourself? Have we missed any? Let's start a conversation, leave your suggestions and user experiences in the comments section. We look forward to hearing your comments about app alternatives to FaceTime for Android.