Ways to videochat other than Zoom & how to look cute on camera, if you care

Earlier this week I was getting burnt out on video chats. I’m halfway between introvert and extrovert, so I need alone time and it feels like I’m being forced to socialize in a way that’s more regimented and less rewarding. Two weeks ago I joined a women’s group chat that meets for an hour every weekday. On Tuesday I decided I had technical problems about fifteen minutes in. There were 30 people there, I doubt they missed me. The chats were good but an hour a day is a big commitment I no longer want to make. I have sh-t to do in my house and for my job! I’ve also been Zoom videochatting with some of my friends at home and some of my Twitter friends. I look forward to those because it’s nice to socialize and is so rare to meet people who know and love gossip like I do.

Prior to this I was familiar with Zoom as I’ve used it for meetings. I’ve also used Google Hangouts, Facetime, What’s App, Skype and Bumble. When dating I always ask guys to videochat first so I can see they’re the same person, if they show up on time and are relatively normal. If they won’t videochat me first, I won’t meet them. Now videochatting is hopefully the only way people are meeting. This is just my layperson’s review of each app along with some minor tips you may already know. I’m trying to keep doing lifestyle-type posts now that we’re taking a break on the Amazon posts.

Looking good on camera
If you want to look good on camera, use the camera on your desktop computer or laptop. I’ve heard people say that Zoom has magic filters that make everyone look better. (They do, but I’ve never used them.) I also think you look better when the camera is at a stable angle. If you’re using your phone to video chat, prop it up on something and test the lighting and angles before you talk to someone. I prop my phone on my laptop if I’m videochatting from it. Also do your hair and makeup if you normally go out that way. I’m a fussy bitch and the Zoom chats are giving me motivation to get ready every day. You may not care and that’s cool, I wish I was like that. Also test out how you look on video before you call the person. Most apps have an option to do that, including skype and hangouts, or you can just use the camera on your phone or computer. The Boston Globe has an article about lighting if you’re into that, but I just make sure there are no harsh lights behind me and look at myself on camera before the call.

Google Hangouts
Prior to Zoom I used Google Hangouts. You can use it on your computer or on the app on your phone, but the drawback is that everyone needs to have a gmail account. Hangouts is free and you can have group chats with multiple people no problem. The best advantage of Hangouts is that you can use it to test how you look first! On your computer, go to hangouts.google.com, hit “video call” without choosing anyone, and you can get your position and lighting right before you invite other people.

The other day I Facetimed the wrong number and ended up talking to a teenage girl who was working at Dominos. It was hilarious and we were laughing about it. I thanked her for working at this time. Of course you can only use Facetime if you have an iPhone or a Mac device. I have an Android but I still use my ancient Macbook air for Facetiming friends. If you don’t want someone to have your real phone number you can set up a new Facetime account as a throwaway. Some people say everyone looks terrible on Facetime, and this is true if you’re using a phone. A lot of that is angles and lighting though.

Everyone is using Zoom for individual and group chats for good reason. It’s super easy to set up, easy to use, you just send someone a link and it installs. I’ve noticed some lag with Zoom lately but that may be my internet and also the fact that I’m looking to end chats early. Oh no there’s lag, got to go! I like using Zoom on my computers but there’s an app for it too of course. It’s free but if you want to chat to more than one person at once it shuts the chat off after 40 minutes. You can just set up another chat every 40 minutes if you don’t want to pay $14.99 a month.

What’s App
What’s App is a favorite for free texting, voice and video calling, especially overseas. More Americans are using it now and it connects to your contacts, letting you know which friends are also on What’s App. You can do group video chats on What’s App, as long as everyone has the app. I only just realized this, but there’s a desktop version! I’m going to install that for my friends/dates who want to use it. I don’t like videochatting on What’s App because I prefer the computer to my phone.

Skype is an old school video chatting app. The picture is often really clear and crisp. It offers free person-to-person and group video chats. I’ve used it a few times and it’s decent, I just prefer the interface on Zoom and Google Hangouts.

Amazon Alexa/Echo
For family members and people you call frequently, Amazon Alexa is excellent. I know there are privacy concerns with this device. I have an Echo Show in my kitchen and use it to listen to Sirius and videochat with my mom and my son’s dad. It might be worth getting a couple for you and a loved one to stay in touch at this point. This reminds me to call my mom later!

Thanks for reading all this and please let me know if you have any tips or other apps you use. There’s one affiliate link the Echo Show above.

Photos credit: Andrea Piacquadio, Marek Levak, Andrea Piacquadio and Ruca Souzafrom Pexels

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