The world is shut inside their homes and the Coronavirus pandemic is to blame. Countries are on lockdown and wandering out of our homes could prove deadly.With people being quarantined, meeting your family and friends has become next to impossible but, thanks to technology like video calling, you can see your loved ones live from the comfort and safety of your home.
The video calling app Houseparty, has risen in popularity in recent times because of its versatility and group video calling facility. The app is available on IOS, Android, Mac OS and Chrome and is free to download. It was launched in the second half of 2016 by the team who made the live-streaming app Meerkat. It went from1,450th most popular app on the App Store in India. Now, it’s ranked fourth. On Google Play, it’s currently trending at #1.
The app requires you to make a free account first following which you can send your friends invites. When your invites are accepted, they show up on your home page as ‘Friends’ from where you can initiate a video call. The app has a “wave” feature which pings the person you are waving to. You are also notified if any of the contacts are online. The feature that sets it apart from other video calling app is the ability to just simply drop in into any group video conference without the whole process of invitation. This makes things very casual with people dropping in and out. You can obviously prevent people from wandering in by ‘Locking’ the room by hitting the lock button at the bottom of your screen.
The App UI is fairly simple with your controls like end call, flip camera, mute audio, mute video. The top bar has a dice icon which lets you and your friends play trivia games while chatting.
As for the performance, the app is a bit spotty. Video and Audio quality is not very clear even with a decent internet connection. Audi tends to drop out sometimes and people get disconnected. You might also see a ‘Weak Network’ sign even when it is not. You can only have eight people at once.
Google Duo recently got an update which allows it to now have up to 12 people on a single video call. The overall performance of Duo is better than Houseparty with better image quality and reliability. Duo’s UI is also cleaner with minimum clutter and with a very fresh layout. Calling unlike in the Houseparty app is initiated by calling the person as the app has no ‘drop-in’ feature like houseparty. It has other useful features like ‘Knock-Knock’ which gives you a preview of the person calling before you pick up, a night mode which lets you see the other person better in dark. The connectivity is rock solid with no signal drop issues whilst the audio and video are crystal clear.
If you want to keep things casual and play fun trivia games with your friends and don’t mind some technical issues, Houseparty will work just fine but, if you want the highest quality, more number people and overall a formal but better experience, Google Duo should be your choice.