CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

10 Free Zoom Alternative Apps for Video Chats

All the best videoconferencing software for making staying in touch with friends and family simple.

Alison DeNisco Rayome Managing Editor
Managing Editor Alison DeNisco Rayome joined CNET in 2019, and is a member of the Home team. She is a co-lead of the CNET Tips and We Do the Math series, and manages the Home Tips series, testing out new hacks for cooking, cleaning and tinkering with all of the gadgets and appliances in your house. Alison was previously an editor at TechRepublic.
Expertise Home Tips, including cooking, cleaning and appliances hacks Credentials
  • National Silver Azbee Award for Impact/Investigative Journalism; National Gold Azbee Award for Online Single Topic Coverage by a Team; National Bronze Azbee Award for Web Feature Series
Alison DeNisco Rayome
5 min read
See at FaceTime
A phone screen displaying a group call over FaceTime.
Best for calling friends (on Apple devices)
See at WhatsApp
Best for calling friends (on mobile devices)
See at Skype
Best for group chats
See at Marco Polo
Marco Polo
Best for sending video messages
See at Facebook
Facebook Messenger app icon on a phone
Facebook Messenger
Best for Facebook addicts
See at Microsoft
Microsoft Teams
Best for Office 365 fans
See at Jitsi
Best open-source option
See at Google
Google Hangouts Meet
Best for Google and G Suite users
See at AWS
Amazon Chime
For AWS users
See at Houseparty
Houseparty (Update: Discontinued)
Best for playing games together

The pandemic drove a lot of people to use video chatting platforms, arguably the most popular of which was Zoom, for the first time. Whether for conducting virtual work meetings or staying in touch with family and friends, this software has become a part of our lives during and post-pandemic. And while Zoom is great, it's not for everyone, which is why we researched the best Zoom alternatives for easy, free video chatting.

With lots of different video tools to choose from, knowing what the best video chatting software is for you and your personal requirements can be a little tricky. That’s where we come in; in a bid to make the process of choosing the very best video calling software a little easier, we’ve put all the most popular systems to the test and have rounded up our favorites below -- all of which are easy to use and stream video seamlessly. 

Though Zoom claims the top spot when it comes to video chatting apps, the service has also struggled with security concerns. In the past, there have been instances of webcam hacking, or "zoombombing," where people have broken into chats and meetings without an invitation. And more recently, the service has come under scrutiny once again due to concerns that its cloud recording feature may be sharing video with people outside the call. 

There are plenty of other video chatting options to use to stay in touch with friends, family and coworkers from around the globe. Below, you'll find our 10 favorite videoconference and video chat apps that you can use for free right now.

It should also be noted, however, that most of the apps listed here have seen security-related issues in the past, which the companies that own them (including AppleFacebookMicrosoft and Google) have since patched. 

César Salza/CNET

FaceTime is Apple's proprietary video calling app. If you have an iPhone, iPad or Mac, it operates seamlessly, letting you start a video chat with any of your contacts (so long as they are also Apple device users) the same way you would a phone call or text message. While FaceTime's primary purpose is video chatting, as its name suggests, you can also do audio-only calls if you're in a place with a Wi-Fi or data connection but poor phone signal. There is also a Group FaceTime option, allowing you to chat with up to 32 people at once -- assuming they all have Apple devices, of course. 

Read more: Best FaceTime Alternatives for Video Calls

Angela Lang/CNET

The Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp has more than 2 billion users worldwide. It's easy to use, and works on Android and iOS devices. WhatsApp offers end-to-end encryption, which means that only you and the person you're sending a message to can read what you send. You can use it to send messages, or make video or audio calls. Its global popularity makes it a great option for keeping in touch with family and friends worldwide. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Skype -- owned by Microsoft -- is available for iOS, Android, Windows and Mac, and offers video and audio calling, as well as a messaging feature. It has an easy-to-use interface, and supports up to 50 people on the same audio call (the number of video callers depends on what device you're using, according to the company). Skype also lets you record, save and share your video calls, and has live captions and subtitles. 

Marco Polo

If you want to video chat with someone but can't do so in real time -- perhaps they have a busy work schedule, or live in another time zone -- Marco Polo is the app for you. You can send video messages to individuals or group chats, which the other parties can watch and respond to at their leisure. Unlike Snapchat, Marco Polo saves all of your video messages so you can revisit conversations, and doesn't limit your video time. You can also add fun filters and voice effects if you want to mix up your conversations. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Facebook's Messenger app is primarily used for sending messages, but also includes a video chat option, making it a convenient choice for those who are on the social media platform all the time anyway. If the person you want to talk to is also a Facebook Messenger user, you can initiate a video or audio call with them through the app. And like on Facebook's main app and Instagram, you can also add a temporary photo or video to your Story on Facebook Messenger.  


For companies that run on Office 365, Microsoft Teams brings together chat, video meetings, audio calling and Office apps like Word, Excel and PowerPoint into one hub for teamwork. If you have Office 365, you already have Teams, but if you don't, there is a free version available. Office 365 has business plans that include Teams start at $6 per user per month. 


Jitsi is a multiplatform, open-source videoconferencing service, which lets you use its multiuser conference client or build your own. All of its tools are completely free and open source. 

Jitsi's prebuilt videoconferencing app is called Jitsi Meet. It's fully encrypted and you can use it without creating an account. Invite users with a custom URL, and share your desktop and trade messages while you chat. 

You can use Jitsi for web, Android, iOS, React-native and Electron apps. 


Google's Hangouts Meet is a videoconferencing tool integrated into the G Suite platform that allows people to hop on meetings via a web link through their laptop or mobile app, or a phone line. If your organization uses G Suite, you can create that link directly through a Google Calendar invite. It's a solid, free option for easy business chats if you already use G Suite. 


Amazon Chime is the tech giant's communications service that lets you meet, chat and place business calls both inside and outside your organization in the same app. It runs through Amazon Web Services, the company's cloud computing platform. The service operates on pay-per-use pricing, so you can switch between basic features with no charge and professional features that come with a price tag as you need them. 


Houseparty is a video chat app owned by Fortnite developer Epic Games that lets you play popular games like trivia and Heads Up! with friends virtually through its interface.

There have been rumors that the app has enabled Netflix account hacks with loose security protocols. In response, the company has offered a $1 million reward for proof of the problem, claiming it's more likely tied to reusing login credentials and passwords. 

Houseparty is available for iOS, Android, MacOS and Chrome.

Read more