Face it! These free Android video calling apps rock

by Caitlin M. Foyt

Video chats are so much more fancy and fun than your typical phone call. Even if you don't have a secondary front facing camera—and have to get creative with a mirror—video calls leave a whole lot less to the imagination

Once you've experienced the possibility of being able to make a surprise appearance at a birthday party, show your mom your latest haircut (photos just won't do it justice), or taken your best friend on a virtual tour of your new house, it's hard to imagine life without that technology.

Unfortunately, depending upon which kind of Android device you have, finding a video calling service that works just right can be a bit of a challenge. Some apps won't support your front-facing camera, others are very selective about which kind of phone they will run on, and many won't allow you to call up those friends who happen to have iOS devices.

To help you find the app that works best for your device (and for your social life), we've provided a list of some the best free video calling apps available for Android.

Skype

Skype allows you to make free Skype-to-Skype video calls, while calling to phones is available at rates that are much lower than standard telephone calls. Skype was one of the first third-party calling apps to come to Android, but the service only very recently announced that Droid users will finally be able to make actual video calls. Originally, this was a feature that only worked for the Google Nexus S. Because Skype has been in the game for a while though, the app both looks and works quite well.

Tango Voice & Video Calls

What makes Tango different from other video calling apps is that it’s so easy to set up. Upon installation, the app goes through your phone's address book and creates a list of your friends who already have Tango which, saves you the hassle of manually doing the same thing. The app works for all different kinds of Android models, those with and without front facing cameras, and allows you to make calls to iOS phones and tablets. Tango works fine via 3G and Wi-Fi, though, it appears, a bit better with Wi-Fi. It may be worth keeping your conversations short or staying plugged in during a call, as Tango tends to eat-up the battery during use.

Fring Group Video Calls, Chat

Fring supports group video calls, in which up to four people can be on your screen at a single time. The app also allows users to make contact with non-Android users. Fring uses a special form of technology called Dynamic Video Quality technology, which adjusts your video quality according to the speed and strength of your Internet connection. That way, you can always have the best, smoothest video phone call.

Qik Video Connect

Sometimes you just can't find time to set up a live chat. What makes Qik so special is that it allows users to send video mail, so you can leave important (or silly) messages when you'd like to. The app works just fine, whether you have a front-facing or exclusively rear-facing camera. Qik Video Connect also offers some neat ways to share videos with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or your blog. The app also has a video feed so you can see what kinds of videos your friends have made. It’s important to note that Qik is powered by Skype.

Yahoo! Messenger (with plug-in)

At its core, Yahoo! Messenger is still that same old instant messaging app you've always known. Since the app does not natively support video chat, you must install the Yahoo! Messenger Plug-in from the Android Market to make video calls. This app won't support your front facing camera, but you can still get the job done with your rear camera, so here's where a mirror will come in handy. When you're not making video calls, you can keep in touch with all of your friends on Yahoo!, Facebook and Windows Live.

Google Talk by Google

Because most, if not all Android users have Gmail accounts, the newly-added video chatting feature is very convenient to have on hand. Sadly though, only users with Android 2.3 and up have the option to make these calls from the Talk app on their Android devices—that's just 10 percent of all Android users. Google Talk's chat is pretty neat because you're able to continue multi-tasking even while you're on a video call. Your text messages can be overlaid onto your screen, and the video will automatically pause even as the audio continues just in case you need to check out your phone’s home screen or look at another app.