Video conferencing is a powerful tool for maintaining face-to-face communication. With so many businesses turning to remote working, it’s good news that so many options exist. But how do you choose between the various options available?
We’ve taken a look at the strengths of four different conferencing apps to help you decide which is the best fit for your business.
One of the most popular options, Zoom offers a feature-rich app available on all platforms, with various plans to suit different business sizes.
The free version can comfortably suit basic needs by facilitating calls of up to 100 participants. It also includes desktop sharing, whiteboarding and annotations, plus recording in MP4 or M4A. .
Meetings are, however, limited to a 40-minute length for more than three participants on the free version. This becomes unlimited at enterprise level along with unlimited cloud storage, custom emails and vanity meeting URLs.
Zoom requires you to give a 10-digit meeting ID or send a link before a meeting, so it’s not the best option for making quick calls between colleagues. Zoom is not always the simplest app to use and is better suited to desktop than mobile.
Like most video conferencing tools, pricing plans are calculated by hosts, so you'd need to make sure you have enough licences for your companies needs. Plus there have been some concerns over security, after the rapid upscale Zoom went through during COVID-19 outbreak, although as this article points out, not all video conferecing is 100% secure, so data senstive materials should be shared in other ways.
Zoom is ideal if you’re looking for… A feature-packed free option with plenty of options to upgrade and scale further down the line.
Google have split Hangouts into two variants: Meet and Chat. Meet is the enterprise version and is only available to G Suite customers. The free version, Chat, is a more basic service that doesn’t offer a huge amount in terms of services and features. It’s more geared towards speed and convenience and can be used in a browser or as an app.
Hangouts Chat allows up to 150 people in a chat, but only 10 in a video conference. Meeting organisers will always need a Google account while users can call in via phone if they need to.
Hangouts is a simple, clean, and good-looking app. It feels more modern than Zoom with its options for backgrounds, emojis, stickers, and GIFs. It is also worth noting that Google have rolled out the enterprise-level features of Hangout Meet to Hangout Chat for a limited time due to Covid-19. This means Hangout Chat users can enjoy meetings of up to 250 people, recording to Google Drive, and more – but only until July 1st 2020.
Hangouts is ideal if you’re looking for… Quick, convenient, smaller meetings on a platform that comes with a short-term enterprise package offer.
Skype has the benefit of already being a household name to people who may be new to remote working. Skype for Business is the paid upgrade which offers chats for up to 250 people, integration with MS Office, and stronger security options. It also has a generous free tier that works cross-platform and supports video calling for up to 50 people – with up to four hours allowed per session.
Skype can be used in a browser or people can be invited by email and participate without having the app installed. The free version also offers screen sharing, options to blur backgrounds, live subtitling of conversations, and the ability to record chats. There are some limitations though.
Skype needs all participants to sign up for it to work and you have to manually add every contact to a group which can be time-consuming on mobile. Skype also hasn’t been updated in some time and can feel a little outdated in comparison to other apps.
Microsoft appear more invested in developing their more complete (and more complicated to use) platform, Microsoft Teams. Colleagues need to create small ‘teams’ within the app for voice or video calls. It is a great option for businesses already using Office 365 and those who need frequent calls for small distinct teams.
Microsoft Teams allows for quick calls 121, without prescheduling meetings or sending meeting invites.
Skype is ideal if you’re looking for… A familiar and no-frills product that people can get to grips with quickly.
FreeConference keeps things simple, as no software needs to be installed. There is a mobile app, but it can also be easily accessed from any device with a web browser. It’s very simple for users to configure, manage and schedule meetings. FreeConference offers text or video chats, features such as screen and file sharing, and international dial-in numbers for conference calls. Up to 1,000 audio participants can call in via telephone.
The major limitation is that a maximum of only five people can be on a single video conference. Contrary to the name, though, there is a premium option where this can be increased. The paid version also come with additional features such as advanced security, video recording, and transcriptions.
FreeConference is ideal if you’re looking for… Hassle-free ad-hoc calls and small meetings with no need to install software.
Our commitment and responsibility to customers at Valda Energy has never been stronger. By using cloud-based digital solutions we are able to continue to provide a full service to everyone. You can still reach us through all our usual contact channels during our normal business hours.