The most well known free video calling applications are probably Apple FaceTime for the iPhone, iPad, iTouch, and Skype for almost every other platform such as Windows, Android, IOS (iPhone, iPad, iTouch), and Mac. Although FaceTime and Skype probably have the most number of registered users and best marketing, other lesser known free video calling applications have more features that are truly free and do not require the purchase of premium subscription plans or the purchase of the application itself.
For example, the ability to have a free video conference call with multiple people requires a premium paid subscription with Skype. And, if you want to use Apple FaceTime on a Mac, the application has to be purchased from the Mac App Store. In ooVoo, a much lesser known free video and audio calling application, between six and twelve simultaneous can participate depending on the platforms of each caller – Windows, Android, IOS, or Mac.
Other free video calling applications like Fring and Movicha (Mobile Video Chat) will support chat over both 3G/4G connections unlike FaceTime which will only work when connected via WiFi. [ Apple has recently announced that with the release of Apple IOS 6, the newest iteration of the operating system for the iPhone, iPad, and iTouch that FaceTime will also support connections over 3G/4G. ]
Not to be left out, the major text chat messenger products, such as AIM (AOL Instant Messenger), Yahoo Messenger, Microsoft Messenger (Part of Windows Live Essentials), and Google Chat all now include the ability to make free video calls.
Unlike the Telephone System, there is no one standard way in which any of these free video calling applications communicate. Each application can only communicate with other users who are running the same application. Skype can only call other Skype(*) users and FaceTime can only call other FaceTime users. The feature set and capabilities vary as to their popularity and penetration in to the marketplace so you will probably have to install more than one free video calling application to connect with your specific contacts.
*Skype is a Voice Over IP (VoIP) phone service that uses the Internet to complete calls between multiple Skype Application users or between a Skype user and a traditional land line or cell phone user. Skype to Skype calls are free. Skype calls to land lines and cell phones, both domestically and internationally, are charged at very low rates that are significantly less expensive than traditional land line and cell phone carriers. Skype allows for instant messaging and chat when voice and/or video calls are not supported. Skype usage is partially restricted by some Cellular Carriers to work only when a WiFi connection is available or only for International connections as the Cellular Carriers want you to use your phone plan voice minutes instead of free calling applications that would potentially travel over the 3G/4G data plan on the phone.
Other Instant Messenger products listed below have or are adding the ability to call out to traditional land line and cell phones as well.
Free Video Calling Applications
FaceTime (Free App for IOS only – iPhone, iPad, iTouch)
Google Talk – Windows or Mac
Google+ (Android, iPhone, Mobile Web)
ooVoo (Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone, Facebook)
Tango (Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone, Window Mobile)
Fring (Android, iPhone, Nokia)
Instant Messenger Chat Services
AOL Instant Messenger (Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone, Web)
Yahoo Instant Messenger (Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone, Web)
Microsoft Live Messenger 2011 (Windows 7 and Windows Vista)
Microsoft Messenger for XP – Part of Windows Live Essentials