Are you going to Zoom with the Grandkids for Christmas?

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With the dreaded ‘C’ word curtailing our movements at Christmas (Covid-19!) More of us are turning to ‘virtual’ connections with our friends and family especially over the up & coming festive holidays.

But what are your options?

There are many apps and services out there to help you stay connected to your loved ones, and it can get very confusing. So, to help you through the maze of options, we have put together a small list of the most popular and user- friendly ones which are Free and more than likely, you already have them installed on your devices.

Using your smartphone or tablet to chat.

Using the above devices is probably the easiest and simplest way of video chatting. They usually have the settings already configured for your microphone, camera etc without having to change anything, literally, press and shoot!.


iPhones and iPads have pre-installed ‘FaceTime’. This can connect up to 32 people on iOS and Mac OS devices at one time. The only downside is that you can only connect using FaceTime with other iOS or Mac OS devices.

Google Duo

Android devices and multiple platforms. This is very similar to FaceTime, but the biggest difference is that it can be used on iPhones/iPads, so it means if your family or friends only have iPhones they can install Google Duo and then you can connect with them. Another different feature is ‘Family Mode’ where you can wear masks and make doodles on screen. (You will need to sign into your Google account to do this)

Video calling on your Computer/Laptop

You don’t have to use a tablet or smartphone to video chat. Your computer will need a microphone and camera (laptops usually come with these already installed) Your PC, however, may need an external webcam, there are plenty on the market at very inexpensive prices. They usually come with inbuilt microphones. A suggestion would be to buy a lens cover to protect your privacy when not in use. Once all installed you can then use any of the items listed below to video chat.


This once firstly aimed at businesses, but since the pandemic, families and schools have hooked on to it, mainly for its ease of utilisation. For one to one meetings, Zoom gives you unlimited time and calls, but only 40 minutes if more than 2 devices are connected. This can run in your window browser with no app needed.



This tool from Microsoft has been around since early 2000’s. It comes with standard on PC’s and Laptops. It supports all kinds of smartphones and tablets. Up to 50 people can connect at one time!

Google Meet

You will need a Google Gmail account to use this one. Again, originally designed for businesses, it is now in wide public use. Like Zoom and Skype, it can run in the window of your browser, so there’s no app to download and install.

Good Video Chat positioning.

Make sure that you don’t have a light source behind you, for example, a Window, as you camera will adjust the light and put your face in the dark. Try to keep your device at Eye level, so you can make eye contact with your family/friends, after all, you don’t want to be looking up someone’s nose or vice versa! 😉

Keep safe on your video calls.

Use passwords to set up your calls, so that undesirables can’t crash your calls.

Always check your video link invites to make sure its someone you know or are sure they are legitimate.

Use a good comprehensive security software like the Norton 360 or McAfee Protection range, to ensure the blocking of dubious links or emails. If you get a bogus invite from a scammer, you’ll be protected-good peace of mind for a very small outlay!

The above are just a few examples of how to connect virtually with your loved ones-Have fun and keep Safe!


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