- Videoconferencing usage is surging due to shutdown and self-isolation rules in many countries.
- The 5 most popular and best videoconferencing apps are Zoom, Skype, Webex, Google Hangouts, and GoToMeeting.
- Brand names are adjusting the offerings to deal with the influx of users during the pandemic, with some offering more features temporarily.
With everyone cast out of their offices and forced to work remotely due to the Coronavirus nightmare, one of the biggest questions is: which is the best videoconferencing platform to use?
Many of us are having to use a range of apps and services to connect with different clients, but if you’re still deciding which to use for your business, here’s a quick guide to what’s popular currently.
Zoom is very flexible. You can join via desktop or a mobile app, as well as dial-in over a regular phone line. However, the company has cautioned that dial-in may not always be available for free accounts, due to current high demand. You don’t need to be logged into Zoom to join a Zoom meeting, but if you do sign up, you can do it via email, Google or Facebook.
- Free account: meet with up to 100 people on video for up to 40 minutes.
- Paid account: starts from $20.99/month. There’s essentially unlimited meeting length (24 hours) for up to 100 people, advanced admin controls, and Skype for Business (Lync) interoperability. Higher plans enable multiple hosts and up to 1,000 participants.
Skype allows you to make actual telephone calls to people, at very cheap rates for international calls, or Skype-to-Skype for free. It’s also easy to send messages and files to contacts without being in an actual meeting.
- Free account: up to 50 people for a video call
- Paid account: Skype for Business is now called Microsoft Teams. From $6.90/month, you can host online meetings and video calls for up to 250 people, with cloud sharing services bundled in.
Cisco Webex is another business-oriented service - it has recently expanded the Free features "for a limited time" - removing time restrictions, increasing meeting participants from 50 to 100 and adding phone dial-in - but these may change later.
- Free account: up to 100 people on video for unlimited time (24 hours), plus unlimited messaging and filesharing
- Paid account: from $18.95/month, you get user management, the ability to join from other video apps, and application and filesharing.
Google Hangouts includes the Google Hangouts Chat instant messaging service and Google Hangouts Meet videoconferencing app, which has been integrated into G Suite. Until 1st July 2020, all G Suite customers get the advanced Hangouts Meet Enterprise features, increasing 100 participants to 250, live streaming and recording.
- Free account: up to 10 people for video, and 150 for a text-based meeting.
- Paid account: from $8.40/month, you get up to 250 participants per call and dial-in access.
GoToMeeting is a web-hosted service created and marketed by LogMeIn. It offers videoconferencing and audioconferencing with a range of professional collaboration features.
- Free account: up to 3 people for 40-minute meetings
- Paid account: from $17.33, you get dial-in access, 150 participants, no time limits, and you can add co-hosts and record sessions.
Disclaimer: all this information was up to date at the time of writing (30 March 2020). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies are adjusting their prices and packages, so features and conditions may change at a later date.
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