Zoom blasted into popularity overnight. Then came the Zoombombers along with privacy and security concerns. If these issues have you looking for an alternative, here are six great options for video chatting with your group.
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For the next best business experience, try Cisco Webex. It’s built with business in mind and shares many of the same features you’ve come to enjoy from Zoom. The service lets you have up to 100 people on the same screen in HD for free, plus there is screen sharing and a personal meeting room. One big advantage of Webex is that they lifted their time limit for everyone so you can meet as long as you want.
Cisco Webex tells me that usage has jumped from 39 billion events and meetings weekly before COVID to over 270 billion now.
Skype has been around forever, but Microsoft just added new features to appeal to the Zoom crowd. Namely, the ability to start a meeting with just a link. Participants can click the link and join in without signing up for downloading any software. In fact, you can even start a meeting without signing up or downloading anything!
Additionally, you can also record calls, blur your background and share your screen – all for free! Skype runs on just about every device, so participants shouldn’t have any excuses for not joining in.
Bonus points: Skype video was the clearest we experienced when testing out all of these services.
If you have an Apple product, you’ve probably used FaceTime in the past. It’s a super easy way to connect with friends and colleagues, but only if everyone is on an Apple product. Android and PC users are left out.
With FaceTime, you can add up to 32 people to your conversation. The person talking gets a bigger thumbnail, so its easy to keep track of who’s speaking, although I found the feature to be a bit busy.
Remember that nasty FaceTime bug that let you listen in on someone iPhone even if they didn’t pick up the call? That’s been fixed.
Google Duo is a lot like FaceTime, but it works across various platforms, including iPhones, Androids and computers using a web browser. Since it’s Google, the video quality is very good.
Due to coronavirus and more people connecting over video chat, Google just increased the number of people that can be on a group call from 8 to 12.
Facebook Messenger works across just about every device and your friends probably already have an account. That means no need to convince them to sign up for something new.
But, they might want to download something new: Facebook just released desktop apps for Windows and Mac computers. You can have your Messenger chats and video calls all in one place.
For some reason, we had the most issues connecting on the desktop version of Facebook Messenger.
For something a bit more fun, check out an app called Squad. This isn’t business optimized at all – the focus here is on sharing your smartphone screen with up to 9 friends.
It’s really neat, but clearly geared towards a younger audience. You can watch YouTube or TikTok videos together, share a movie, surf the web, shop and more! It’s actually very slick.
Bottom line: The big challenge in using one of these Zoom alternatives is getting other people on board. It seems like everyone has a Zoom account right now and that’s part of the appeal. Also, I don’t necessarily think you need to find a Zoom alternative. Zoom has responded to the increase in popularity in a responsible way and has done a lot in recent weeks to tighten up security. But it’s nice to have options.
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