FaceTime Alternatives for Android

When FaceTime was first announced alongside the iPhone 4 back in 2010, Steve Jobs described the platform as an “open standard,” meaning anyone who wanted to use the FaceTime technology for their own gain would be able to do so. At the time, it seemed obvious that a FaceTime client for desktop and alternative mobile platforms would eventually show up, allowing for Windows or Android users to call their iPhone-owning friends—so long as both parties were on a WiFi network, of course.

But while Apple did eventually manage to convince their carrier partners to allow Facetime to operate over mobile networks, FaceTime clients for operating systems not created in house by Apple never arrived. While it’s true that FaceTime is created on an open standard, its end-to-end encryption means developers looking to make a FaceTime client for non-Apple device would either have to break this encryption—a serious security flaw, in addition to a major legal risk—or wait for Apple to create a dedicated FaceTime app or kit outside of their own hardware. And while we wouldn’t rule out Apple eventually porting FaceTime to Android or other platforms, we also wouldn’t hold our breath for that app anytime soon.

Instead, it’s worth looking into the alternatives that exist for Android. Just because FaceTime doesn’t exist for Android doesn’t mean you can’t video chat from your mobile device; on the contrary, there are some great cross-platform apps on the Play Store that allow you to contact users on just about any device, including iPhones and iPads. If you’ve been holding out on video chatting and you’re ready to jump into the 21st century of communication, let us be your guide. These are the five best FaceTime alternatives for Android.

Everyone else

Google Hangouts makes the list largely for the same reason as Facebook Messenger: nearly everyone, especially Android device owners, have access to it. Hangouts is a preinstalled application on most Android phones shipped prior to 2017, which makes the install base larger than every app on this list outside of Messenger. The only requirement to use Hangouts is access to a Google account, something that’s already required to use Android devices anyway, making this app one of the easiest to setup and use for video calls.

Like most video chat applications outside of FaceTime and Duo, Hangouts also has its own built-in messaging service that allows you to instantly message any of your Google or Gmail contacts built into the device. Hangouts keeps its interface relatively simple, with a threaded interface displayed on the homepage of the app and recent messages and calls displayed within each thread. You can send other users images, emojis, stickers, and regular text messages, and set a status for other users to see if you’re actively online or offline. Google Voice and Project Fi users can use Hangouts as their SMS app, meshing their Hangouts and text conversations together, though other users will have to use a separate texting application to communicate with SMS users.

The biggest problem with Hangouts isn’t the app itself—it’s Google. With the introduction of Google Allo and Duo as their new messaging suite, plus the refocus of SMS and RCS messages with Android Messages, Hangouts has been left in a tough position, being forced into a corner by Duo’s video chat services, Allo’s instant messaging features, and the removal of SMS support from Hangouts when Android Messages was introduced. Though Google has sworn Hangouts won’t be retired anytime soon, the app is slowly being repositioned for business users. If Google’s opinion on the continued existence of Hangouts isn’t obvious enough, they removed the app from the required suite of Google apps to be installed on Android devices at the end of 2016, replacing the app’s place with Google Duo. Hangouts isn’t a bad application—with clients for Android, iOS, and the web, it can work on any platform available—but it’s one that’s slowly being replaced by Google’s newer suite of communication devices.

Skype’s been on the marketplace for nearly a full fifteen years, and for a time was the video chat application, much like how Kleenex is used in place of the word tissue. And though FaceTime—and other apps, to a lesser extent—have eroded away at some of the market domination held by Skype, many people still rely on the service for their video calling daily. Unfortunately, the app has received its fair amount of criticism over the years from users, typically due to connection problems, high CPU usage on desktop computers, and latency issues when using the application in the background. Microsoft’s purchase and subsequent funding of Skype in 2011 have helped alleviate some of these issues, but the app remains controversial in some corners of the internet.

The app was massively redesigned in 2017 to refocus Skype not as a video calling application, but as a messaging client that also supports video calls between users. While this in and of itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does push video calling into the background of the application, which only manages to exacerbate the problems outlined above with Skype. The newer, flattened design of the application isn’t necessarily bad, though. It looks rather nice and bright, especially on devices with an AMOLED display (there’s a dark theme as well), and with support for “Add-Ins,” Skype can replicate some of the features supplied by both iMessage and Snapchat, including stickers, embedded YouTube videos, and forecasts right inside the app. The mobile app does support group calling, and the new Highlights feature replicates Snapchat’s Story feature to a T.

Overall, Skype is Skype, whether you’re using it on mobile or desktop. It’s been around for long enough that most smartphone owners have probably used the platform, building an extensive friend list over more than a decade of use. That said, whether or not your friends are still using Skype is another story, and if you can’t get other users to download the app onto the device, you can forget about using Skype to manage your friends’ video chats.

In terms of comparisons, imo is closest to Google Duo or FaceTime in terms of simplicity and features. With clients for Android and iOS, it’s a solid cross-platform offering for users looking for a basic yet powerful video calling app. Though the app does have a messaging interface for communicating with your friends over text, it’s obvious the app is designed to focus primarily on video chatting from the main display. imo is, in some ways, an overly simplistic app, with a tab-based layout that features your chats and your contacts in two separate displays. In the chats display, you can start a new group call or reply to an already existing thread. The app has taken some direct influence from Snapchat, with a shutter button at the bottom of the display that allows you to take photos or hold to record short videos to send to your contacts.

Inside the Contacts thread, you can start a new conversation with your already-existing friends on the service, or invite a recent contact to chat with you on the service. Tapping on the name of your contact will open a display that shows the message interface (allowing you to send photos, emojis, voice messages, and more), as well as a large banner to video call the user. You can also video call right from inside the Contacts tab by tapping the video camera icon on the right side of the display. Finally, if you know the phone number of the user you want to add and they don’t appear in your recent contacts, you can add them directly from the “Add Friends” option using their phone number.

Though imo’s video and voice quality was solid in testing, the biggest problem facing this app isn’t the interface or the features—it’s the user base. Only one contact on our test device appeared within the app, out of the 200-plus contacts saved on the phone. Even with its 100 million downloads on Android, imo has, by far, the lowest user base out of all five apps we tested. This makes it difficult to recommend on the same level as applications that come with preinstalled users, including Google Duo and Facebook Messenger, and even Hangouts and Skype. This isn’t to say imo is a bad app, of course, but that it will be difficult getting your friends and family members to adopt a new platform they’re largely unfamiliar with. Still, if you can get past that hurdle, imo is a solid app in the spirit of FaceTime or Google Duo, with some extra messaging features built in for good measure. Even if this app never hits the heights of Messenger or Skype, it’s not a terrible idea to keep imo on your device for when the occasion calls for it.

One thought on “FaceTime Alternatives for Android”

PrasantaShee says:
A very good facetime alternative which you guys can have a look is: R-HUB HD video conferencing servers. It works on Windows, MAC, Android, iOS etc. Plus provides 30 way HD video calling.

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