The zoom video conferencing app has become a very popular means of keeping in touch during an increasingly isolated world during the coronavirus pandemic for both personal and professional meetings. However, there have been a number of complaints recently about Zoom's privacy and security data, especially as more and more people are flocking to the platform and a brighter spotlight is on how it works and what data it may collect.
We recently made a summary of some of the free video conferencing apps available, including Zoom. With so many questions raised about Zoom's security, we decided to rerun the summary. This time without zoom and without any other apps that you can use instead.
It should still be noted that all of these versions are free, but some offer temporary access to additional features for those who are currently working from home or looking for friends and relatives online.
There are a number of apps that we have not included, such as Facebook, WhatsApp and FaceTime, that allow you to video chat. They either require that all participants are members (Facebook, WhatsApp) or that they use a certain device type (FaceTime, only for Apple). The following list contains more general applications that you can use to participate without actually having to register for the app (unless you're the host).
Skype has been the platform for one-to-one calls since the beta was released in 2003. The "Meet Now" function (which you can access using the "Meet Now" button on the left side of the app) enables video conferencing. Depending on the website, the maximum number of participants can vary depending on the platform and device.
There is actually a separate page where you can create a free video meeting without actually having to sign up for the service. However, when we tried, I and other employees kept getting an error message. So if you're using Skype to host a meeting, you'd better download the app.
- Record the call for up to 30 days
- Can blur the background (if you have the app)
- Share presentations
Webex is a video conferencing app that has been around since the 1990s. It was acquired by Cisco in 2007. Although it is mainly known as a business application and continues to focus on business support, it has a fairly generous free version worth checking out. For the current emergency, the functions of the freemium version have been expanded from 50 to 100 participants, the 40-minute limit for meetings has been abolished and call-in functions added.
- Up to 100 participants
- Unlimited timing for every meeting
- Call for audio
If you're not a company, you may not have heard of StarLeaf. It is a platform for large companies – the way they do not quote a price on their website. You need to call a seller. But now it offers its basic video and messaging product for free to those trying to stay in touch during the pandemic.
- Up to 20 participants
- Forty-six minutes for each meeting
Jitsi Meet, another video conferencing app you've probably never heard of, is an open source platform that makes it easy for you to meet online simply by navigating to the website and clicking "Go." If you are technically more inclined, you can create your own via Jitsu Videobridge. However, most users will be happy with the fast web version, which offers many features found in more popular apps, e.g. B. Chat, session recording (for Dropbox)) and the ability to "kick out" unruly participants.
- Up to 75 participants (up to 35 for the best experience)
- Public or private chat
- Can blur the background (currently in beta)
- Integrated in Slack, Google Calendar and Office 365
The free version is rather limited compared to some of the others mentioned here; You can use a single meeting room with up to four participants and lock rooms (the participants have to "knock" to gain access). Each room has its own URL that you can choose. That's great – provided no one else has already adopted that name. (For example, I tried using where.com/testroom and found that it's already taken.) However, it also has a chat feature that lets you share a screen, mute or eject users, and it is fun to use emoji. If you have more people in mind, the Pro version ($ 9.99 per month) offers up to 12 attendees per room in up to three meeting rooms.
- Up to four participants in the free version
- Split screen
- YouTube integration
- Possibility to "lock" rooms
Yes, everyone, Google Hangouts (the "classic" version) is still available, although this is not advertised by the company that is currently driving Hangouts Meet for G Suite users and corporate customers. (It's fun to go to Hangouts and read the 2017 announcement that chat and meet "are also made available to consumers.")
If you're feeling old-fashioned, you can use Hangouts to video chat with up to 10 people. There are not many additional functions. You can add text messages and share screens, but that's about it. However, if you want to work quickly and easily, you should check this.
- Up to 10 participants
- Voice calls can have up to 150 participants
As listed in this Twitter thread, there are a variety of other zoom alternatives, including RemoteHQ, Talky, Highfive, and 8×8. Some of them don't have a free version. For example, BlueJeans, a more popular option, costs $ 9.99 a month for unlimited meetings with up to 50 people.
Of particular note is Houseparty, a popular consumer app that allows up to eight people to chat in a virtual room. In fact, anyone can join a friend's online session without an invitation (though you can “lock” your room to prevent intruders). However, it requires that all participants register to use it. The registration includes your name, your email address, your date of birth and your telephone number. That is why we have not included it in our recommendations.
Video meetups with chat apps
Many of us already use Slack and / or Microsoft teams that have a limited number of video conferencing features. If you're wondering if you can use a free version of Slack or Teams to host a video chat, here's some information:
Slack is primarily set up for text chat (and is in the process of introducing a new design), but it also gives you the ability to make voice and video calls. If you're using the free version of Slack, you can call someone by video call. However, if you are hosting a meeting between several people as opposed to a one-on-one conversation and want to hold it for free, you need to look for an alternative.
Microsoft Teams was obviously developed as a competitor to Slack. Because it's part of the Microsoft application ecosystem, it's a good idea if you want to collaborate on different office documents, for example, and it offers video conferencing capabilities. Microsoft currently offers teachers and payers the opportunity to use Office 365 E1 free of charge for six months. People who only use Gmail or other free apps will be forwarded to Skype.
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