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The 5 best alternative free video chat apps

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal | May 31, 2013
No Facetime, Google Hangouts, or Skype? These third-party services pick up where the big-name chatting solutions leave off.

There are tons of public Camfrog rooms that you can join to talk about...basically anything. When you join a room, you'll see your video feed in the upper left corner. In the right corner you can swipe to access other people's feeds (you can swipe through all the feeds, but you can only see one at a time), and the lower half of the screen features a text chat. You can pause your feed, switch cameras, or talk to the room by tapping the speaker icon. It's not the best way to video chat, but if you're looking for new works pretty well.

You can also make voice calls and sent instant messages to other Camfrog users. Unlike the other video chat apps in this round-up, Camfrog doesn't scour your address book for contacts—if you want to privately talk to another user, you'll need to look them up by their Camfrog nickname. Since Camfrog is more of a social network than a pure video chat app, you can edit your profile to add a profile pic, status update, marital status and what you're "seeking," occupation, home page, and you can also set your privacy settings.

Qik—iOS, Android, BlackBerry
If you want to mix a little lifecasting in with your video chats, multi-platform video app Qik may be right up your alley. Qik is a free video app available for iOS, Android, and BlackBerry. It's not primarily a video chat app, though—it's more of a lifecasting app, or an app that lets you record moments and publish them to your very own live Qik feed. But it does have video chat functionality, including the ability to send video messages to offline users.

Qik's main screen is just a view through your phone's camera lens. On this screen you can record videos using either the forward-facing or the rear-facing camera, and you can add live effects such as black-and-white, x-ray, mirrored, etc. Once you've recorded a video, you can name it, and share it on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or via email or text. Your video is automatically uploaded to your Qik feed, which can be viewed by other Qik users (you can also make your video private).

If you'd rather video chat with a friend, tap the "Connect" button at the bottom of the screen. A new menu will open up with the typical video chat features: History, Contacts, Keypad, and Video Mail. Qik scours your contact list to see who already has Qik accounts; you can start video chatting with these people immediately. Otherwise, you'll need to invite your friends and family to Qik—it only works with other Qik users.


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