Zoom, the infamous video conferencing tool that offices, schools, and more, have turned to in the aftermath of the Covid-19 epidemic. But over the past few weeks, Zoom has found to be rife with issues ranging from privacy concerns, to people hijacking meetings, and more. This reached a point where the Ministry of Education in Singapore had to ban the video-conferencing platform in schools.
That being said, let’s take a deep dive into various video call alternatives for various needs. You don’t need to use Zoom to catch up with friends, or to have a quick meeting with colleagues, so here’s some other tools you should use:
Microsoft Teams is Microsoft’s answer to well, helping you manage your team. There’s a free version of Teams that includes support for up to 300 people, and unlimited chat messages and search. Microsoft Teams also comes part of the Office 365 subscription, which essentially opens up more features that are held back in the free version.
Though for free, they do include built-in audio and video calling for groups, so that’s nice. Like, the bare essentials. But if you’re working, or you’re a student, you might have this service for free already, which makes it ever more convenient (if your organisation has a Office 365 subscription.).
It makes collaborating easier considering that Microsoft Office applications are built-in, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, so that working on projects or assignments is seamless. Microsoft Teams is also, made by Microsoft, so you can trust it’s security. Plus, they did just add custom backgrounds support, so now’s the best time to get in on it.
Skype and Meet Now
Ah Skype, one of the veteran’s of video-calling is a standard for many. I’m not quite sure why people didn’t naturally transition over to Skype, considering it has basically everything Zoom has to offer. Not to mention it’s well known. It’s probably because Skype only allows up to 50 people on a group call, and that you need to have the Skype app on your iOS/Android phone, or computer.
Though there is an option for video conferencing via their ‘Meet Now’ option which provides a link so that anyone can join in without a Skype account.
People who just need to chat, among other things, should probably just use Skype. It’s way more secure with encryption, but keep in mind not end-to-end encryption. Plus, most people already have Skype (though the amount of people who still use it on a regular basis is another question).
Webex is a videoconferencing app which arguably, has been here for some time. I just never noticed it. It’s main focus is primarily for business applications, but it does have a decent free version. The free version supports video conference cals of up to 100 participants, some add on call abilities, and no minute limit for calls. They also include HD video calls, screen sharing and a personal room.
They do offer premium plans which starting from $13.50 (~RM58) per month per host. This will give you some more functionality including cloud storage, recording transcriptions, MP4 meeting recordings and more. This makes it a solid choice for videoconferencing, but I’d say save this one for your work, or educational purposes.
Look, don’t get down on WhatsApp’s video call capabilities because it’s probably going to be the easiest way to chat with friends, especially in a time you can’t physically meet them. Considering most people use WhatsApp on the daily, it’s ideal for a quick checkup, or calling to discuss something for work.
WhatsApp supports up to four participants, and it’s pretty easy to use. Just start a call with one person, and add in the rest, or you can select a group to call simultaneously. The only problem I really see with WhatsApp call is the fact that only four people can be on a call at a time. But hey, better than nothing right?
By this point, you’ve probably heard of Houseparty of have used it with your friends. For the uninitiated, Houseparty is the video call platform you need to unwind and just relax. You know, from the rest of the video-calls you just took on Zoom, Skype, or whatever else you needed to do for work or school. Houseparty is a ‘face-to-face’ social network, which makes it easy to get in on a group video chat.
You don’t have to ‘call’ someone as you’re just dropping in on someone’s ‘house’, and talking to the people there. You add your friends on Houseparty, and if they’re online, you can join in on the call or start one yourself. It kind of is like an on-demand video call .
An added bonus is that it doesn’t need very much personal information, so privacy and security shouldn’t be of much concern. There has been some rumours regarding how safe Houseparty is, but they’ve addressed that in a statement that they are indeed secure.
Houseparty is for casual chatting, play some games they have in-built on the app, and head out. Houseparty is available for iOS, Android, macOS and Chrome. Check it out to hang with your friends, to alleviate that lonesome, isolated feeling you’ve got.