Alternative to Skype on Smart TV

You might have seen advertisements for Smart TVs that show a family on a Skype call with their friends. As it turns out, some Smart TVs were compatible with Skype and they even had built-in webcams for group calls. Skype on Smart TVs was a major marketing point back in the day.

The problem? Skype recently decided to shut down its TV versions of the Skype app, leaving a lot of people scrambling for an alternative to Skype on a Smart TV. If you need Skype on your TV, don’t worry, there are a few decent alternatives that can work for you.

Skype Alternatives for Smart TVs:

1 – TV Has Android: Download Apps from Google Play

While the selection of Smart TVs with Android is quite small, it can be very useful, and it offers the easiest way to get a Skype alternative on a Smart TV.

If your TV has Android, you can most likely download any other video chat software through Google Play to your TVs, such as Zoom, Whatsapp, Facebook, and others. For calls to work, you will most likely need an external USB webcam with a microphone. Bear in mind, these apps might not be compatible with your TV hardware, but it never hurts to check.

On that note, if your Smart TV has a built-in camera, you can check the list of preinstalled chatting apps. Maybe Skype is not on the list anymore, but there might be another app you can use, and then it’s only a matter of getting your friends to use that app too.

Another thing to keep in mind is while certain versions of apps no longer work on TVs, some TVs do allow you to sideload apps. To sideload an Android app you would download the direct APK file and install it. I don’t really recommend sideloading apps on your TV unless absolutely necessary.

Now, chances are you don’t have a TV with Android, so here are some other options:

2 – Connect a Laptop to a TV through HDMI

While not exactly a Skype alternative, it’s a very easy way to make calls from your TV and everything is plug and play, no configuration required.

What you need to do is simply run an HDMI cable from your laptop to your TV and then your laptop will detect the TV as a second monitor. Now, open any chatting app on your laptop and you’ll be able to see and hear the call from your TV.

I personally like this method because most laptops have built-in webcams and they’re easier to place on a counter next to your TV than a phone. So you can place the laptop down and have a group chat with another group of friends.

3 – Screen Mirroring or Sharing to Smart TV:

The idea here is to mirror your phone or laptop’s screen to enlarge it on the TV, making it easier for more people to participate in the call.

Note: on phones, this is usually called screen-mirroring but on laptops or PCs it’s called “Screen sharing” and you’ll likely need a casting dongle.

Screen Sharing Over Wifi

The easiest way to wirelessly screen share from one device to your Smart TV would be to use a casting dongle, such as Chromecast, Roku, or Apple TV. In some cases, your TV might have built-in apps that support the function too.

The exact steps to get screen mirroring to work vary depending on the device you use (phone, laptop, etc), the dongle you use, and the operating systems you’re working with. Most of the time, screen sharing is very straightforward.

In my opinion, it’s easiest with Chromecast. With Chromecast, you have the option to share your entire desktop with your TV, you’re not limited to Google Chrome.

Smartphone to Smart TV Over HDMI

Most modern phones can be connected to a TV through a USB C to HDMI adapter. New Samsung phones have an especially useful feature called Samsung Dex which creates a desktop-like experience whenever the phone is connected to an HDMI display.

With a hub, insert the USB-C end into your phone, insert an HDMI cable to the other side, and finally connect the HDMI cable to your TV. When you do that, screen mirroring should automatically activate, or you may need to select a setting on your phone. From there, hop in a call on your phone, and the content of the call should be on your Smart TV.

Overall, screen mirroring your phone to a Smart TV is a good alternative to Skype on TV. Since you’re simply sharing your phone’s screen, you’re not limited to one particular app, so it’s a convenient way to make calls.

4 – Android TV Box with Webcam

While not the cheapest solution, an Android TV box can be worth the investment because you can add a lot more features to a TV, not to mention you can use it with any HDMI monitor too.

An Android TV box is basically a small device that runs the Android operating system and allows you to connect to the internet and stream services that your TV does not natively support, such as Netflix, Hulu, and other apps.

Bear in mind, Android TV boxes do not come with a webcam, you’ll need to purchase one separately (make sure it has a microphone) and plug it into the Android box. With an Android top box and a webcam, you simply need to install a chat app from Google Play on the box and it should work smoothly.

While Android TV boxes do have their uses, buying an Android TV solely for video chatting on your TV is not a good idea, the other options are more convenient.

Can I Use Whatsapp on a Smart TV?

There is no official Whatsapp version for a Smart TV but you can get Whatsapp on a TV by sideloading the Whatsapp APK. However, I do not recommend using that method because navigating the app will be a hassle with the remote, and typing even more so. I suggest using one of the screen sharing options mentioned earlier to move Whatsapp to your TV.

Can I Use Facebook Messenger on a Smart TV?

While the official Facebook app is preinstalled on some Smart TVs, Facebook Messenger is not, and getting it to work involves some unofficial tricks and the end result is not worth the hassle. Once again, screen mirroring is the better option here.

Do note that Facebook has created a new dongle called Portal TV that is designed to allow video calls from Messenger and Whatsapp on your TV, so that’s worth keeping an eye on.

About S. Santos

Tech columnist and tech blogger, audiovisual aficionado trying to keep up with the ever-evolving world of gadgets, home entertainment, and personal technology. If not fiddling with AV cables at home or in front of the computer, he can be found playing tennis or padel.

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