The current pandemic has been affecting the whole world for months. We were forced to learn new ways to work or study and start to use online services for more things than just to watch Netflix or post on Instagram. In order to successfully work and communicate from home, though, you need to have access to good software; for instance, video conferencing software to connect with colleagues or teachers. Therefore, we have compiled a list of several video conferencing apps below that might be helpful for you in the current climate.
Zoom Video Conferencing
First off, we start with Zoom Video Conferencing. Zoom rose to popularity with the start of the coronavirus pandemic and received a lot of criticism over some security and privacy issues. However, since then, the CEO of the company Eric Yuan and his developer team have been working relentlessly to assure Zoom users were as protected and secure as they could be. The Zoom app offers great audio and video quality for online conferences with multiple participants. The service has a free version along with a paid one for companies that need more participants in one call. The free version has some limitations to the number of participants and meeting duration. There are three paid subscription types, each one focused on specific business needs. The most expensive subscription also offers unlimited cloud storage and improved security.
The app offers virtual backgrounds, whiteboard, screen sharing features, chat and individual meetings. You can either view only the speaker on your screen or you can use the gallery option, displaying all the participants in the call. Additionally, the host controls everything and if the host decides, he or she can limit the features you can use during a meeting (like unmuting yourself, or recording a meeting).
Google Meet (previously known as Google Hangouts)
The interface of Google Meet is integrated with other Google services, such as Gmail and calendar, allowing you to seamlessly join a meeting directly from your calendar. Google Meet also offers virtual backgrounds and screen sharing.
Google Meet allows a maximum of 250 participants in a call and provides live streaming possibility of up to 100,000 viewers for a domain. Google has now introduced a gallery view, like Zoom, so if you wish, you can view all the participants in the conference call.
Google Meet pricing:
Free basic subscription for a limited time; Paid subscription plans from $6 per user or per license
Microsoft Teams is Microsoft’s business-oriented team communications app, included in Microsoft 365 (formerly known as Office 365) subscription packs. It’s more chat-focused compared to the aforementioned two options and it’s easy to use if your organization, business or school has Microsoft 365 licenses. MS Teams also offers virtual backgrounds. However, if your organization or business does not already use M365, you will not be able to benefit from some of MS Teams’ integration features, such as Outlook integration, the possibility to join meetings out of your Outlook calendar or to have all your colleagues email addresses easily accessible to you. MS Teams’ maximum number of participants in an online meeting is 250.
Microsoft Teams pricing:
Free basic subscription; Premium subscriptions included in Microsoft Office 365 plans from $5 per user per month
Slack was probably the most popular collaboration tool in the world before Zoom came into the picture. Slack currently still has a lot of possibilities for collaboration, and is integrated with a lot of useful apps, especially work-related ones such as Zendesk and Salesforce. It offers persistent chat rooms, called channels, organized by topic and provides a great way to search for information in the system and in archives or older messages.
Free basic subscription; Premium subscription plans from $12.50 per month
Cisco WebEX Meetings
Cisco WebEX Meetings is also great for collaborative remote work. The service offers a free version and several subscription plans, depending on the needs of your organization. This application offers screen sharing, like the other ones in our list, along with meeting recording and whiteboard. Additionally, it also offers a virtual background option. It can also integrate with several popular productivity tools, such as Outlook, Microsoft Office 365 and calendar.
Cisco WebEX pricing:
Free basic subscription; Premium subscription plans from $13.50 per month per host