With the onset of the COVID-19 remote work exodus that has seen billions stuck at home, video conferencing apps have exploded in popularity. At the forefront is the service Zoom.
However, with Zoom’s explosive popularity came a series of highly publicized and controversial issues that don’t seem to have an endpoint in sight. This has driven many users to seek out alternate methods to chat with co-workers or even family.
The following is a list of seven alternatives to Zoom that people seeking a less-infamous method can no doubt find useful:
Since 2003 Skype has been the go-to platform for one-on-one conversations, now with the release of its Meet Now feature (which is accessed by choosing the “Meet Now” button on the left side of the app) Skype allows video conferencing.
According to its official website, the maximum number of participants can vary, depending on your platform and device. The feature also lets users create free video meetings without having to sign up for the service – however, through signing up you gain access to many more features so if you’re okay with registering for a free account, you’re better off doing that.
2. CISCO Webex
Webex is a videoconferencing app that has been around since the ’90s, if you can believe that, and was acquired by CISCO in 2007. While mainly known as a business application and continues to focus on serving companies, it does have a fairly generous free version that’s worth checking out.
The app has widened its features during the ongoing pandemic, now its freemium version supports 100 participants (up from 50), gotten rid of the 40-minute limit on meetings, and added call-in abilities.
3. Google Meet
Formerly Google Hangouts Meet, and up until recently, only available to Educators and those subscribing to Google’s paid service, G Suite. Google has announced that it is going to make Meet available to the users of its free Gmail service as well, starting in early May.
Though it may take a few weeks for the service to activate in your account, once available it is a simple way to video chat with work colleagues, friends, and family – which all will need matching Google accounts.
To start Meet, simply go to “Join or start a meeting” on the service from Google’s services, give the meeting a name (if you want), and send out your invites. Meetings can also be scheduled via the Google Calendar. Meet includes a number of new security features.
Users who don’t want to wait for Meets can simply use the ‘classic version’ in Google Hangouts. Although the company isn’t promoting it, it’s still available in the G Suite.
All that being said, if you’re feeling old-fashioned, you can use Hangouts to video chat with up to 10 people. There aren’t a lot of additional features. You can add text messages and share screens, but that’s about it. Still, if you want quick and easy, this is worth checking out.
Users may never have heard of Starleaf – a platform usually reserved for larger companies – the kind where they don’t quote a price on their website; you have to call a salesperson, says The Verge.
Now, as the world is gripped by COVID-19, it is now offering its basic video and messaging product free of charge for those trying to keep in touch during the pandemic. 20 Participants, with a 46-minute time limit for each meeting.
6. Jitsi Meet
Jitsi Meet is an open-source platform that allows users to easily meet online simply by navigating to its site and clicking “GO.”
The technologically inclined can build their own video conferencing platform via Jitsu Videobridge, but most people will be happy with the quick web version, which offers many features found in more well-known apps, such as chat, session recording (to Dropbox), and the ability to “kick out” unruly participants. The quick version allows up to 75 participants, and many integration options, such as with Microsoft Excel.
Whereby’s free version is notably limited in comparison to some of the above-mentioned platforms, it gives users the use of a single meeting room with up to four participants.
Each room has its own URL that you get to choose. It also has a chat function, lets you share a screen, mute, or eject users, some emoji support. If you have more people in mind, the Pro version ($9.99 per month) offers up to 12 participants per room in up to three meeting rooms.
Edited by Luis Monzon
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