Houseparty is becoming one of the most popular video chat apps of the times, no doubt thanks, in part, to the societal effects of the global pandemic we're currently experiencing.

Being cut-off from friends and family, unable to meet up and spend time with them in person has driven the need for other means of connection and all-manner of video apps and services have gained sudden attention and popularity to meet demand. 

As such, being confined does not mean we can't still be social and Houseparty has risen from obscurity to quickly become one of the social video apps of choice right now.

Despite the fact that the service is still technically in beta, that hasn't stopped it from gaining major traction; likely thanks to its robust mobile apps and the ability to play games with your friends.

On the other hand, if you're still not convinced by this newcomer there are a host more applications designed to make group video calls with your loved ones a doddle.

Is Houseparty worth it?

Considering the state of things right now, we'd say "yes". Any decent app or service of this type that lets you stay connected to friends and family deserves consideration considering the current situation, and Houseparty is a standout entry.

That said, even with its fresh-faced approach to video chat, it's still weighed down by the odd bug, not to mention there's definite room for improvement. Take a look at the pros and cons below:

Pros

  • Group video calls with up to 8 people
  • Lets you play various games over video call
  • It's free

Cons

  • The app (and its games) are only available in English
  • Games lack variety
  • Interface takes some getting used to

How does Houseparty work?

As just highlighted, Houseparty's interface isn't the most intuitive. As such, here's a step-by-step mini-guide to help you better understand how it works. 

The first things first, you need to download the Houseparty app (there's also a Chrome browser extension and a MacOS app). The app is available from the Play Store on your Android device and the App Store on your iOS device.

When you install the application (remember, it's totally free), you will have to create an account. For this, you will need a username, email and password - pretty painless. Remember your username because it's how your friends can find you.

Once set up, Houseparty's main screen is your front camera's viewfinder, so smile! Remember, so long as the app is running (including in the background) you contacts can call you.

At the bottom of the main screen you'll see several icons: 

  • Video camera - Touch to disable your video feed
  • Reverse arrows - Lets you choose between viewing your device's front or rear camera
  • Padlock - Locks your 'room' so that uninvited contacts can't disturb you
  • Microphone - Mutes/unmutes your device's microphone so others can/can't hear you
  • Cross - To exit any call quickly

The icons at the top of the screen are your main means of interaction with other users. The smiley face icon (top left) will help you find friends who already have Houseparty installed; that is, those who already have the app on their phone and appear in your contacts list. We recommend browsing this list and clicking the 'Add' button on as many contacts as you like. 

If you want to add a specific person, ask for their username and write it in the 'Add Friends' section. Just below, in 'My Friends', you'll see the people who you are already friends with on Houseparty.

The pill-shaped icon with a circle in the middle (top centre) Shows you who's online or "in the house" as well as suggested contacts to invite to Houseparty. In addition, tapping the paper plane icon lets you access your inbox, where your contacts can send you messages. 

The plus icon or '+' (top right) lets you search for a contact by typing their username, as well as (again) letting you invite or add contacts to the app.

If you touch on any of these friends and then on the 'Invite to the room' button, you will invite that person into a video call. You can add multiple friends at once to create a group video call (up to eight people).

What games are there in Houseparty?

Once you're in a video call, you can, if you want, invite your friend(s) to play various games. Houseparty currently offers four different games. 

  • Heads Up - You have to choose one of the deck options (only one is free). You then have to give clues to your opponent so that they can guess the card. 
  • Trivia - Questions appear and each player will have to choose the correct answer.

  • Chips and Guac (3-player minimum) - Letters appear and you match them to funny descriptions. Best pairing wins.
  • Quick Draw - You have to draw and the other people in the call have to correctly guess the object that appears at the top of the screen against the clock. More correct guesses equals more points.

Visit Home Hacks for more top tips and advice on dealing with the new normal.