Keeping in touch

Learn how

Learning to get online and how to use the internet are important modern skills

Many older people have felt there was no need for them to learn about the technology, or just felt that the world had passed them by. But this is changing rapidly. The most rapid take up of smart phones, tablets and computers is now amongst the older generation… and why not.

Action for Elders is fully supporting programmes to help you to understand just what is available and to make it much easier for you to get online. Our particular emphasis is not the technology itself but on helping you to keep in touch with family and friends. In particular, we are encouraging our members to explore the world of video calling to help them escape from isolation and get back in contact with old friends and their families.

How to make a video call

What is video calling?

Making a video call involves using a mobile phone, a tablet or a computer so that you can see the people you are talking to.

It’s a nice way to make a call because you can see the person you are talking to

What do I need to make a video call?

  • To make a call or receive one, you will need a smart mobile phone, a tablet, a laptop or a desktop computer (a device).
  • You will also need an internet connection of some kind. These can be as simple as a monthly mobile package, or as complicated as home connections which have to be installed by companies such as BT.
  • We also recommend some basic support or training to help you to make your first calls. A bit like anything, once you make a few calls and get confident with what you are doing, you will wonder why you waited.
video call on a tablet
family on skype call

What if I am worried about the cost and difficulty of learning something new?

First, understand that you are not alone in worrying about how much this might cost, or how complicated it will be to use it.

Luckily, they are a lot less complicated to use than they were in the past,and, with good advice and a little planning, there is no reason why you cant avoid the pitfalls of costs that are too high or equipment that is more than you need.

The best news is that you can make calls for free if you do it the right way

Would you like some help?

Action for Elders has a technical team to support you and help you make the right decisions

Next steps

Talk to friends and family about what you want to do and find out what is the most easily available.

Ask what other people use. They can prove invaluable as “experts” who can help you later and, in the shorter term, can make you aware of any pitfalls and problems they may have met, so that you can avoid them.

If you do have access to a computer already, then this may be your chance to investigate too.

Making different types of video calls

Video calls on an Apple iPhone, iPad or Mac PC

Apple have made making a video call on an iPhone, iPad or Apple laptop or computer nice and easy for the first time user.

Placing FaceTime video or audio calls is nice and easy to do. There’s a built-in FaceTime app on every iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Mac.

FaceTime is also integrated into the Phone app on iPhone, As long as you’re on Wi-Fi or cellular data, you can stay in touch with family and friends, even while travelling. You can also connect with anyone in the world, even without a long-distance plan, and not only hear but see the people you’re talking to.

Face Time
Hover over an image to see it more clearly

FaceTime icon on a phone

1. Tap (or click on a MAC) on the FaceTime icon to access the app.

FaceTime plus screenshot

2. In the FaceTime app, tap the plus button and enter the person’s phone number or email address.

FaceTime plus screenshot

3. Tap the number or address, then tap Audio or Video.

FaceTime plus screenshot

4. If you have the person’s phone number or email address saved in your Contacts, you can start typing their name and tap the name when it appears.

Video Calling on an "Android" phone

With “Android” based phones, making video calls requires you to download and use an App, though these are readily available. The nearest equivalent to FaceTime is Google Duo. But alternatives such as using Zoom, or WhatsApp for video calls are described later.

Duo is free to use and works across both iOS and Android devices – unlike Apple’s FaceTime

Duo is available on Android phones and tablets. When you sign up, you’ll get a verification code on your phone.

How to set up Google Duo

Download the Google Duo app for your iOS or Android device
Agree to Google’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Service
Designate whether Duo can send you notifications and access your microphone and camera
Verify your number
Type in the one-time verification code sent via SMS
The app’s main interface will then appear.
Google Duo’s main interface is a screen that is split into two, with the top half showing you what your camera sees, and the bottom portion offering up a search bar with a ‘Create Group’ tab below. When you first see this screen, you’ll be asked to give Duo access to your contacts.

Video calling

Every time you open Duo, you’ll see the camera view with the search bar and ‘Create Group’ button below.

To start making a video call: Type in the name of the contact you want to video call in the search bar > Select their name from the list > Tap on the ‘Video call’ icon in the centre at the bottom of your screen.

The first time you call, Google will tell you “Smile! Knock Knock is on”, along with a notice that says your friend – if he or she has you as a contact – will see you appear on their phone while you’re ringing. Your friend can’t see you while ringing you with this feature however. So, whenever you video call a friend, you’ll see a screen that warns you your video is a visible, then you’ll see the name or the number of the person you’re video calling, and an end button, all of which is superimposed onto a view of whatever your camera sees (likely you).

When a friend video calls you, and you happen to be using your phone, you’ll see an incoming video call screen, which includes a view of whatever his or her camera sees, the name or the number of your friend, and buttons to either answer or end the video call. If you’re not using your phone, you may simply get a notification that says a video call is incoming, but that depends on your notification preferences.

Once you answer a video call, or if your friend answers your call, you’ll see the actual video call screen, which includes a view of whatever his or her camera sees and four buttons. These buttons include a mute button, a button to toggle between your front and rear-facing cameras, a low-light mode button and an end call button. There is also a thumbnail of your camera view (which you can tap to enlarge and thus minimise your friend’s camera view to the round thumbnail). It’s all pretty straightforward, to be honest.

When you or your friend end a call, you will be brought back to the camera view/search bar and ‘Create Group’ button screen.

Note: The search bar allows you to search for contacts by name or number, as well as invite friends to Duo. Your friends will need to install Duo for them to be able to video call you using Duo – which sounds obvious but is worth mentioning.

Manage preferences

While on Google Duo’s main app interface (the camera view/search bar and ‘Create Group’ button screen), tap the three-horizontal dots button in the upper right-hand corner. You’ll then see options to go to Settings, Help, and Feedback. Tap the Settings option.

Under this menu, there are several settings you can change, including the ability to turn off Knock Knock and Low-light mode. You can also limit your mobile data usage, enable your phone to vibrate while ringing (Android only), unregister your phone number, add a Google Account, and block numbers, among other things like Siri Shortcuts for iOS users.

Can you disable Knock Knock on Google Duo?

Yes. Duo has a feature called Knock Knock that lets you see live video of your caller before you answer. You can disable this feature under the ‘Settings’ menu within the app (see ‘Manage preferences’ above).

Can you disable low-light mode on Google Duo?

Yes. Duo has a feature called Low-light mode that will make you more visible to the person on the other end of a video call if you are poor-lit surroundings. You can disable this feature under the ‘Settings’ menu we mentioned in the ‘Manage Preferences’ section above.

What is Google Duo’s Low-light mode, how does it work and how do you use it?

Can you make group video calls on Google Duo?
Yes, Google Duo offers group video calls for up to 12 people. To create a group, tap on ‘Create Group’ at the bottom of the Google Duo screen and select the contacts you want to add.

Can you make voice calls on Google Duo?

Yes. Like FaceTime and WhatsApp, Duo offers voice calling as well as video calling.

Can you sign up to Google Duo without a phone number?

No. Duo needs your phone number. The app lets you reach people in your phone’s contacts list. No separate account is required.

WhatsApp video calls
WhatsApp has emerged from nothing a few years ago to being one of the most popular ways to keep in touch. In part this is because of its end to end security, but the main reason has to be because it is so easy to use for messaging and for making video calls.

Providing you have sufficient data, or you are using a WiFi connection, the calls have teh additional advantage of being free.

To make a call simply select the contact from your WhatsApp address book. When you do so, you will see the phone icon and the video icon in the top right hand corner of your screen. . Simply press to start the call and away you go.
Alternatively you can select the caller from your previous list of calls at the bottom of your screen.

Facebook Messenger calls

Facebook allows families and friends to stay in touch no matter where they are in the world. Use the video-chat feature on Facebook Messenger to quickly connect with up to 50 people on most modern devices.

How to Use Video Chat on Facebook Messenger on Mobile

  • If you’re on an Android device, you can download the Messenger app directly from the Google Play Store. Apple provides the Messenger app for the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch through the Apple App Store.
  • Once the app is installed on your smartphone or tablet, open it and tap the search bar to find the contact with whom you want to video chat. If you’ve previously sent messages to or called friends in Messenger, they’ll appear below the search bar.
  • Select the person, and then tap the Video Chat icon at the top right.
  • When you receive a call, Messenger immediately notifies you, and you can accept or decline.
  • When you’re in the call, you’ll see your friend or family member in the center of the screen and yourself at the top right. The buttons at the top, from left to right, allow you to open a chat, broadcast your video chat to an available device, switch between the rear- and front-facing cameras, or disable your camera.
  • From the bottom row, you can change the color of your background, add friends to your video call, mute your microphone, or end the call.

How to Use Video Chat on Facebook Messenger on Desktop

  • If you’re using a laptop with a built-in webcam or a desktop with an external webcam, you can video chat with any Facebook friend through Messenger.
  • Start by logging in to Facebook in your browser of choice. Click “Messenger” on the left of the Facebook home page.
  • Click the name or avatar of the person you want to call. Then, select the Video Chat icon at the top right to start your call.
  • When your friend answers, you’ll see him or her in the center of the screen and yourself at the bottom right. Click the Video Camera and Microphone icons to toggle your video and audio off or on.
  • Click the Monitor icon to share your screen. Press the red Phone Receiver icon to end the call.

Facebook Messenger’s video chat is a free, easily accessible option you might want to consider to keep in touch with friends and family.

Making a video call on a PC
Making a Skype call
Making a call using Zoom
There are two parts to Zoom, the first is connecting to Zoom, and the second is launching the application once you have installed it.

Why we focus on the problems of old age

Many old people suffer from loneliness and inactivity. Worse still, they are frequently viewed as being less important than other adults.

Research shows us that all of us can live better lives in old age if we are more mobile and have the opportunity to talk and meet with other people. This is why we put so much effort into our programmes for physical, mental and social programmes.

Contact us

Email: info@actionforelders.org.uk

Phone: 030 330 30132

Post: Action for Elders, Elfed House, Oak Tree Court, Mulberry Drive, Cardiff Gate, Cardiff CF23 8RS

Get in touch

Action For Elders is a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales under number 7698491 and registered as a Charity number 1145996
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Registered office: Elfed House, Oak Tree Court, Mulberry Drive, Cardiff Gate, Cardiff CF23 8RS