For a long time, Android lovers have yearned for a platform that offers the same abilities as that of iMessage on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. After several failed attempts, Google recently started rolling out RCS (Rich Communication Services) as an alternative to iMessage on Android but only to users in the US.
Besides iMessage, it is Apple’s FaceTime that is widely used on iPhones, iPads, and Macs and the app is designed to make video calling easy between Apple’s devices.
What is Facetime
FaceTime is a video-calling application designed for use on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. The service works on mobile data and WiFi, thus letting you make free internet-based calls to anywhere right from the phone app on an iPhone. The service is widely used since it comes preinstalled with any Apple device and it offers advanced messaging capabilities, message syncing across devices, large-sized media, and delivery receipts.
Can You Use FaceTime on Android?
To keep things simple, the answer is NO. FaceTime is a closed software, meaning until Apple chooses to, the app won’t be available outside the Apple ecosystem and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. So, if you’re hoping to FaceTime a friend from your Android phone, you’re out of luck. If anyone says otherwise, they are making a fool out of you.
Luckily for you, Android is loaded with a sea of FaceTime alternatives. Even if you can’t take Apple’s video calling app for a ride, there are some solid video calling apps available for Android smartphones. What’s more? You can even use most of these apps to make video calls to iPhones or MacBooks.
Best Alternatives to FaceTime on Android
Here are a few apps that offer video calling on Android phones with the same level of quality as on FaceTime. All of the apps below should work for you no matter which Android device (Google, Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, LG, Motorola, etc.) you own.
What we like: Works on iOS and Android, Simple, Knock Knock functionality
What we don’t like: Nothing besides video calling.
Most recent Android phones ship with the Google Duo app pre-installed. The app is available on both Android and iOS devices, meaning you would be able to make video calls to iPhone, iPad, and Mac users as well. Calls can be made over mobile data or WiFi just like on FaceTime and you can leave a video message (much like a voicemail) when the person on the receiving end doesn’t answer your call.
Related: Best Google Duo tips
Additionally, there’s a Knock Knock feature that allows users to see who is calling, giving a live video preview. All calls are protected with end-to-end encryption, just like that on FaceTime to ensure privacy. Duo also supports group video calling to up to 8 people.
What we like: Runs on Android, iOS, and Web, video calling with screen sharing
What we don’t like: Could be a little complicated for many
Google offers a secondary video calling option in Hangouts which also works on Android and iOS in addition to the web. While Duo only supports video calls, Hangouts comes with full message-sharing functionalities including text messages, and voice calling.
Hangouts additionally offers a built-in screen sharing option, conversation history, and location sharing. Users can make audio-only calls to other Google Hangouts users and can also disable their microphone from within a video call without ending the session.
What we like: Supports iOS, Android and Web, Share anything for free
What we don’t like: Nothing exactly!
While FaceTime is used by all iPhone and Mac users, WhatsApp is used by almost any smartphone user, be it on Android or iOS. The app has been a go-to chat service across several regions and its video calling functionality is quite popular as well.
Related: Best WhatsApp tips
Calls and chats are encrypted like on FaceTime. Besides video calls, you can send and receive audio or video messages within the app. The app sorts out the people you should call through the contacts saved on your phone and you can start communicating with them once you’ve set up the app with your phone number. The service also comes with desktop and web clients for replying to messages on a PC.
What we like: Widely used since everyone is on Facebook, Mobile & Web support
What we don’t like: Won’t work without a Facebook account, unnecessary notifications
WhatsApp might have been a no-brainer but there’s another Facebook product that might interest you if you’re searching for making video calls from an Android phone – Facebook Messenger. The app is an established service alongside Facebook, meaning you won’t need to convince people to install it.
Chats are end-to-end encryption protected, even in groups. Calling and texts are possible on mobile data or WiFi. It also runs on all platforms including Android, iOS, and web (compatible with Windows, macOS, or Linux PCs) and can thus be used to make video calls no matter which device you’re using.
Download: Facebook Messenger
What we like: Simple UI, Cross-platform support, group video calling to up to 25 people
What we don’t like: Complex pricing scheme
In case you don’t know, Skype was the first video calling service that went mainstream. Even after a decade of its existence, it has managed to stay relevant and is yet another widely used app across several platforms. Skype offers one-on-one and group video calling to up to 25 people simultaneously. The app is compatible with Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, Windows and can even be used on some smart TVs and gaming consoles.
You can send and receive text messages and the app on Android can also read SMS messages. When using the app for video calling, Skype offers a live transcription of the video if the language is supported. The service comes close to replicating FaceTime on Android and also offers the ability to grab a screenshot during a video call, just like on Apple’s video calling service.
What we like: Supports video calling to up to 16 people, augmented reality stickers
What we don’t like: Hard to use since it’s a photo chatting app, Can’t be accessed on desktops
Snapchat came into the limelight as a self-destructing image sharing platform but has lately branched into a full-fledged messaging service with many social features. The app is available on iOS and Android but unlike its competitors, it asks for an account to be set up by using your email address instead of a phone number.
Related: Best Snapchat tips
While the app is primarily used to send snapshots and short videos, users can also make video calls to a single person or within a group to up to 16 people at once. Users can additionally share stories for a day’s viewing, use filters, Bitmojis, and augmented reality stickers in their videos for a change.
What we like: Cross-platform support, group texting with 250 people
What we don’t like: mobile calls are paid thus useless, no video group calling support
Moving on to the lesser-known services but the ones that might really interest you. Viber is yet another application which has stood the test of time and has transitioned from just a calling app to a messaging platform. The app is cross-platform compatible and thus supports Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, and Linux. Additionally, Viber also comes with Android Wear support.
While it offers high-quality video calls, it can only be made between two people and not in a group. Group calling is only enabled with audio. The Viber Out feature offers low-cost calls to landline phones locally and internationally. The messaging app also provides group texting with support for up to 250 members.
Download: Viber Messenger
What we like: Supports more platforms than any other service, group video calling to 200 people
What we don’t like: Not simple for video calling alone, too many social media features
Line originated as a WhatsApp replacement, although it’s still a long way out from doing that. As for its messaging options, it comes with voice and video calling, text messaging and group texts. The service is accessible across more platforms than others including Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, Chrome OS, and Firefox OS.
One of the highlights of using Line is its support for up to 200 participants when making video calls. Other features include in-call polls, filters, stickers, in-app lock, and international landline calling.
Will you ever get FaceTime for Android?
FaceTime on Android is a fanciful hope. When Steve Jobs launched it in 2010, he promised to make the video calling app open for everyone but Apple is yet to execute that. It even uses the same technologies for video, audio and networking services as its alternatives and could happen, but only in theory.
FaceTime has been a core part of the Apple ecosystem and many users consider it a reason to not be able to switch away from iOS to Android. Add to that the market competition between Apple and Google, the latter of whom would benefit even more with FaceTime integration. Another reason why Apple won’t consider it in the future has to do with the fact that FaceTime is encrypted end to end and creating an app for use on Android would break it.
Will the other person need an additional app?
Whether the person at the other end has an iPhone or an Android device, they would need to have the same installed and set up on their phone in order to get the video call from you.
What do you think? Are you happy with these apps to video-call your friends and family or do you think FaceTime is something you need? Let us know in the comments below.