Billed as a “face-to-face social network”, Houseparty is an app that’s gaining users rapidly because of its simple ability to host easy group video chat.
It’s appealing because it’s simple to use. You can dip in and out of a “house” rather than having to make a call, plus the barrier to entry is low requiring only basic personal details (yet you can find your friends very easily). As you’ll hear, you can also play games with your quarantine buddies which is one of the key features.
It’s not a new app though – it’s actually been around since 2016 and in 2019 was bought by Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite.
How do you get friends on Houseparty?
Houseparty uses your friends on other social networks – like Facebook or Snapchat – to make you aware that your friends have signed up, so once you sign up you’re quickly aware of others already using it and vice versa. You can send your friends an invitation link alternatively.
It isn’t connected to your phone number (although you can import your phone contacts) and it’s specifically designed for social chats unlike something like Zoom that’s a business app that’s been repurposed for group socials in these difficult times. And as we mentioned you don’t need to make a call like on Skype, WhatsApp or FaceTime – you can simply drop in.
How does it work?
Once you’ve found your friends, the app alerts you when your friends are “in the house” and so ready to chat. It’s the same when you open your app – your friends are alerted. In normal life this could be a bit annoying we feel, but in a quarantined world we found it’s quite refreshing.
You can then jump right into a call. You can also join other “houseparties” that your friends might be part of, so it’s a lot more fluid than other services which have rigid groups.
Are there games?
Yes, this is part of the fun – you can choose from a few games to play as a group. The quiz is the most fun in our opinion (although a bit US-centric) and you quickly get competitive. It would be good to see even more group games appear although some of the games have extra options to download more questions or themes.
The games – which can be played by up to eight people simultaneously – include Heads Up!, Chips, Trivia, and Quick Draw – they’re all quite fun and competitive.
What is facemail?
You can send people facemails – yes, really – that are just video messages that appear as soon as the recipient opens up the app.
What does Houseparty work on?
The app is available for iOS and Android as well as macOS. There’s also a Google Chrome extension so you can use it on PCs, too. There’s also a web-based version in beta that you can use with other browsers.
The app is free to download and has shot up the charts on both Google Play and the App Store. At the time of writing it’s amongst the top downloaded apps on both stores.