Conference calls have been the lifeline of the last year, saving everything from homeschooling to business transactions to staying connected with family and friends during times of distancing. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the un tech savvy to face their digital demons and embrace tech on a daily basis. Luckily, video conferencing tools made this transition as seamless as possible. Zoom became a household name; however, it is not without fault. Reports have indicated some technical issues as well as questioning how secure the service is. Luckily, the world of video conferencing is expanding, with many great alternatives available.
Here are the top options available for video conferencing just in time for another lockdown:
Whereby, formerly known as appear.in, is one of the easiest video conferencing tools on the market. Its ability to work straight from browsers, both on phones or laptops, makes it one of the most accessible video conferencing tools available. With no downloads necessary, you can jump right into the call with minimum faff.
One of the other features helping Whereby stand out from the crowd is its large-scale chat rooms. With up to 50 participants per chat room, the chats allow 12 people to be “on stage” at one time. The other participants are still able to interact via the many useful options including chat and reactions. These allow dynamic meetings to take place with everyone allowed to interact without interrupting a talk.
At a security level, all Whereby chat rooms are locked by default. Guests wanting to enter the chat can be checked by the chat members before allowing them to enter. This is an optional feature that can be turned off at any point to ease access and will help you avoid phishing scams.
Google Meet is Google’s answer to video conferencing. Previously known as Hangouts Meet, Google Meet used to only be available to subscribers of G suite and educators. Yet, following the rise of video conferencing in the events of the pandemic, Google made their Meet service available to all users of their free Gmail service.
For larger conferences, Google Meet conferences can hold up to 100 participants although those who subscribe to other Google services can hold up to a maximum of 250 participants, as well as gaining access to other advanced features. The meetings allow a maximum of 60 minutes per meeting.
Join.me is another great option for your video conferencing needs. With three different packages available, you can choose the option that best suits your business needs. The three options are Lite (£9 monthly), Pro (£13 monthly) and Business (£20 monthly). Within each increased price bracket, you will have access to more advanced features including greater maximum for chat participants, and more recording options and scheduling options, amongst other things.Not sure about committing to a paid subscription? The platform also offers customers a free trial period so that they can try before they buy.
This video conferencing offers many different customisation options including customising the meeting link and meeting background. Join.me is a great option for those needing to screen share, offering many different options for effortless sharing.
Despite being overtaken by Zoom in recent months, Skype is one of the most well-known video chat tools and has been around since the early 2000s. For those wanting to digitally connect, Skype still offers a reliable service. Whether you are wanting a one-to-one call or a group chat, Skype is accessible on mobile, PC, Xbox and Alexa.
Video calls on Skype can hold up to 50 people for free. Like some of these other services, there is a paid option available which gives access to more advanced options. Amongst others, these include the option to call phones or send SMS messages.