Google and Facebook target Zoom with new video chat options with fun effects, no time limits

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Zoom is the way to video chat right now and others have taken notice.

Now, Google, Facebook, and WhatsApp are launching new video chat options that target two of Zoom’s sore spots: security and time limits. Here’s a look at what’s new.

Follow Tech Reporter Rich DeMuro on Instagram for more tech news, tips and gadgets!

Facebook Messenger Rooms

Facebook’s new group video calling feature is called Messenger Rooms. It lets you hang out with up to 50 friends on one screen.

While Zoom has virtual backgrounds, Facebook is taking the fun a step further – with 360-degree virtual backgrounds, mood lighting and fun effects. Think of the filters in Instagram but on your video chats with friends.

“This has emerged as just an incredibly important way that people are relying on to stay connected to the people that they care about right now,” said Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in a video release about the new features.

Facebook’s big advantage over Zoom: everything is free and there are zero time limits. Also, friends don’t need a Facebook account to join into a chat, you can just send them a link.

Facebook Messenger Rooms will be available soon.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp is a popular chat app used by people worldwide. It also happens to be owned by Facebook.

In response to COVID-19, WhatsApp is doubling the number of people that can participate in a group video call. The limit used to be four, now it’s eight. Calls can be video or voice.

WhatsApp offers end to end encryption, which is the most secure way to connect with others.

The new expanded video calling limit is available now, WhatsApp says all you have to do is update the app to get the feature.

Google Meet

Google offers several types of video calling but its “Zoom killer” is called Meet. It offers very similar options including that familiar “Brady bunch” grid view of up to 100 people on the same screen.

Google Meet was previously only available to schools and businesses, but now they’ve opened it up for everyone to use.

Google is talking up the advantages of Meet, mainly security. Unlike other solutions that merely require a link to participate, Google Meet users must have a Google Account to join a video chat. (If you have Gmail, you have a Google account) Additionally, meeting codes are complex by default so people can’t join in by just guessing them, aka no Zoombombing.

Unlike Zoom, which can “trick” users into downloading its software onto their computer, Google Meet truly works in a web browser. There are no downloads or extra software required on desktop computers. On Android and iOS, you will need to download an app to join a video call.

Meet video chats have no time limits right now, although Google says this will only last through September 30, 2020. After that, there will be a 60 minute time limit on video chat.

One of the coolest features I found with Google Meet is their live closed captioning, which transcribes what people are saying in real-time and displays it on the screen.

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