Q. Can I video-chat with my kids even though I have an iPhone and they all have Android phones?
A. Yes, though you have to do one of a number of workarounds because Apple’s proprietary FaceTime isn't available on Android, says Mike Gikas, a Consumer Reports expert on smartphones.
The first workaround is to use Skype, which has video-chat apps available for iPhone and Android. But you need to set up an account with an ID and get those you plan to video-chat with to do the same.
Another option is a newer service with fewer hassles: the GoogleDuo app. (We can't vouch for imitators, so be sure you download the one with this precise name.) The app allows video-chat conversations between any combo of iPhone and Android phones. Plus it has an interesting feature called Knock Knock. When you are calling someone who has the app, that person can see a video stream preview of you as you call, a feature that you, as the caller, can turn off if you're not comfortable with that.
Setup of the video-chat app Duo is quick and easy. If it's not already preinstalled on your Android smartphone, you can download it for free on Google Play; iPhone owners can download it for free from the App Store. Apple lovers will be relieved that they won't have to set up a Google account just to use Duo, because it's tied to your phone number, not to a Google profile. But you will have to grant the app permission to access your phone's contacts, microphone, and cameras.
As with FaceTime, Duo is free, but the video chats you conduct over your cellular connection will count against your plan's data allowances. Use WiFi to save on data, Gikas advises.
Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the May 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.
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