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How To Video Chat With Your College-Bound Kid

The suitcases and boxes are packed, the car is loaded, and you're about to say goodbye to your proud new undergraduate. You spent 18 years thinking this day would never come but now it has and you've got those predictable mixed feelings of joy and sadness: Joy that they are finally out of the house and sadness that, well, they are finally out of the house!

Of course, you can always check in on your nearest and dearest via smartphone, but sometimes a phone call, e-mail or text is not enough. You want to see how they look and make sure that you will still recognize them when they come home for the holidays!

That's where video chat comes in. With smarter devices, updated apps and faster networks, there are lots of ways for you to get a little face time and make sure everything is OK. Here are some of the more popular apps that will make it seem like your baby never really left after all! 


Skype is still the best known and most popular video chat platform, with over 650 million registered users worldwide. Making or receiving a Skype call from a desktop or PC requires custom software but both the download and the calls are free. Skype video calling is also available on properly equipped smartphones and tablets with the Skype for Mobile app.

Skype-to-Skype voice and video calls are free, whether the other party is on a mobile device (Android, iOS, Windows Phone), or a PC or Mac. Skype can also be used to make or receive international calls from regular landline or mobile phones at heavily discounted rates.


FaceTime is Apple’s custom video calling app, which is available on the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac computers. FaceTime is a proprietary app, which means it can only be used on Apple devices. But it’s “cross-platform,” which means an iPhone can call an iPad and an iPod touch can call a Mac.

FaceTime is very versatile and easy to use. Just find the contact you want to call, tap the FaceTime button, and the person you’re calling will be invited to join the chat. You can switch from a regular call to a FaceTime call mid-conversation, and even use Siri, Apple’s voice activation tool, to initiate the call.

Google Hangouts

One of the most popular features of the Google+ social network, Hangouts allows instant video chat between individuals in the same Google+ network. Up to 10 people can be on a Hangouts chat at the same time. A mobile app allows you to initiate or join a Hangouts video chat from a properly enabled smartphone, and easy access to Hangouts is a feature of many of the latest Android phones.


Tango is a popular video and voice calling app that is available for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone devices. With Tango, you can make free video calls, free voice calls, and even send free video messages. Once you are registered, Tango will search your contacts to see who else is on Tango, and making a video call is as simple as tapping a button. There are some fun features in Tango Surprises, and Tango calls can be made over Wi-Fi or your carrier’s network.


ooVoo is another service that allows you to make free video calls, free voice calls, and send free instant messages on your Android device, iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. You can also download ooVoo software to make or receive video calls from your PC or Mac. ooVoo can search your contacts, and Facebook and Twitter accounts to find friends already on ooVoo, and the app features an option to invite up to 12 different people to join you on free group video calls.


Fring offers free calls, video calls and texting for Android and iOS devices. Users can choose one-on-one video chat or a 4-way group video chat option. Fring also offers some of the lowest rates for calls to international and non-Fring landlines and mobile phones, using their fringOut service. Calls can be made via Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G networks.

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