Today with the touch of a finger you can connect almost instantly with anyone across the globe. Whether you’re checking in on your loved ones or working remotely, chances are you’re using some sort of video conferencing app. Being able to communicate effectively through video is especially important in these strange times of minimal real-life interaction. Vital to both your productivity at work and social wellbeing, video communication is the best tool we currently have to keep in touch. However, with so many different options it can be difficult to pick the right one. Here are the top 5 video conferencing applications:
By far the best video conferencing software when it comes to working remotely. Zoom has many attractive features which separate it from other video conferencing apps. For instance, Zoom’s free plan allows you to host up to 100 participants and up to 500 with their paid plans. You can also record sessions which is great for catching up when you missed a meeting and keeping track of where you are within the project you’re currently working on. Another great feature is screen sharing, you can easily share your screen with the people you’re talking to making it much easier to share information. There is also a “whiteboard” feature which creates a digital whiteboard for everyone to use - great for online tutoring or group brainstorming. It easily integrates with other apps like Slack and offers innovative features such as Zoom also protects your privacy by offering virtual backgrounds, they even have a feature called “Touch up my Appearance” which will make you look better and definitely hide any unplanned hangovers!
2. Google Hangouts Meet
Google Hangouts is Google’s answer to Zoom. It has many similar features such as group conversations, recording sessions, and screen sharing. It’s very useful If you’re already a Google user as it integrates seamlessly with other Google apps. You can host up to 250 participants per conference and live stream to up to 100’000 people. Although it has fewer fancy features than Zoom, it can be somewhat easier to navigate as it doesn’t have as many options. It is available both on mobile, desktop, and browser and it does not require all participants to have the app downloaded.
3. Skype for Business
Everyone knows Skype. Skype was one of the first and most popular video communication services and chances are you already have a Skype account. With the recent surge in competition, Skype had no choice but to step up their game with a bunch of new features such as call delegation and one-touch pause. Skype for Business is slightly cheaper than Zoom, starting at only $12.50 per month and allows users to host video conference calls for up to 250 participants. Skype also has the advantage that it’s extremely intuitive and most of your contacts are likely to already have an account and have experience using it.
4. Cisco Webex Meetings
Cisco is another fairly new alternative to Zoom. With similar pricing plans for pro users, Cisco Webex offers video conferencing for up to 500 people, meeting management and easy integration with third-party software. One advantage of Cisco Webex is that there is no limit to the length of the meeting, unlike Zoom who limit video conference calls to 40 minutes. Coming from Cisco, Webex has the advantage of coming from a long-established corporation with heaps of experience in the communication sector, which suggests they will be long term players in this race.
Whatsapp had to be included on this list because even though it is nowhere near as fancy as the services listed above, Whatsapp is extremely convenient, and the best way to share quick updates. Whatsapp is widely used, thus perfect for quick last-minute catch-up calls or emergency meetings. Whatsapp offers video conferencing for up to four participants, which again, can be very useful in smaller groups, and in a slightly more informal setting. While Whatsapp is a mobile app that cannot be downloaded on your desktop, it can easily be integrated with the browser of your choice.
With so many different services available, it can be difficult to choose which one is the best one for you. It really comes down to which services you are most comfortable with. All the services above offer a free plan or free trial, so the best way to pick your next video conferencing service is to try all of them and see which one works best for you and your team. Often, this decision does not come down to us, but it’s always good knowing the different options out there, so you can suggest alternatives. One thing is for sure, with the current climate of social distancing and our increasingly connected population, video conferencing applications are only going to keep getting better!