Top Video Conferencing Apps

Zoom-video-conferencing-services

We’ve listed a few of the best known video conferencing apps, along with a couple of popular text chat apps that include video calling features. While most of these already have free versions, some are offering access to additional features for those who are currently working from home or who want to check up on friends and relatives online.

There are a number of apps we have not included, such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and FaceTime, that allow you to do video chats. We’ve left them out because they require that all participants be members of a specific social network (Facebook, WhatsApp) or that you use a specific type of device (FaceTime, which is Apple-only).

THE MOST POPULAR VIDEO MEETING APP

Zoom

Zoom’s ease of use and multiple features has made it very popular.

Zoom has become one of the most well-known video conferencing apps, largely because of its easy-to-use interface. Originally, the company pushed Zoom mostly for corporate use, but it has also provided a free basic version for individuals. At first, because Zoom didn’t expect its sudden popularity among non-business users, there were several missteps involving privacy and security. However, the company quickly instituted a number of changes and updates to address these issues (including, most recently, end-to-end encryption for its free users). And its popularity doesn’t appear to have suffered.

The free version of Zoom allows up to 100 users to meet, but there is a 40-minute limit on meetings of more than two people, which is, for many of us, pretty limiting. As of this writing, Zoom was not offering any special deals for those now working at home, but it does have a page offering help and advice to new users.

NOTEWORTHY FEATURES

Host up to 100 participants

Unlimited one-on-one meetings

Forty-minute limit on group meetings

Skype

Skype, now part of Microsoft, has added videoconferencing to its VoIP features.

Skype has been the go-to platform for one-on-one conversations since the beta was released in 2003. Its Meet Now feature (which is accessed by choosing the “Meet Now” button on the left side of the app) allows videoconferencing; up to 50 people can meet with no time limits on meetings.

There is also a separate page that lets you create a free video meeting without having to actually sign up for the service. However, you get more features using the app, so if you’re okay with registering for a free account, you’re better off doing that.

NOTEWORTHY FEATURES

Record the call for up to 30 days

Can blur the background (if you have the app)

Share presentations

Up to 50 participants, no time limit

CISCO WEBEX

A CORPORATE APP WITH A SOLID FREEMIUM VERSION

Cisco Webex is a well-known business conferencing app.

Webex is a video conferencing app that has been around since the ‘90s; it was acquired by Cisco in 2007. While it’s been mainly known as a business application and continues to focus on serving companies, it does have a fairly generous free version that’s worth checking out. For the current emergency, it has widened the features of the freemium version from 50 to 100 participants, and you can meet for up to 50 minutes.

NOTEWORTHY FEATURES

Up to 100 participants

Up to 50 minutes for each meeting

Can record meetings and save locally

GOOGLE MEET

NOW BEING FEATURED ON YOUR GMAIL PAGE

Google Meet recently became available to Gmail users.

Until recently, Google Meet (formerly Hangouts Meet) was only available to educators and those subscribing to Google’s paid service, G Suite. Since then, Google has made Meet available to all users of its free Gmail service — in fact, it has added a link to Meet on the left side of its Gmail online app (and is rolling it out to its mobile apps as well).

Meet offers a very simple way to video chat with colleagues, friends, and family — assuming they all have Google accounts, which is a requirement for both hosts and participants. To start, simply go to Meet, click on “Join or start a meeting,” give the meeting a name (if you want), and send out your invites. You can also schedule a meeting using Google Calendar, and Google includes a number of security features such as the ability to admit or deny entry.

NOTEWORTHY FEATURES

Unlimited meeting time until September 30th; afterward, 60-minute limit

Up to 100 participants

Offers noise cancellation feature

MICROSOFT TEAMS

Chats can include text, photos and audio.

Chats can include text, photos, and audio.

 Teams’ video meeting features are basic, but effective.

Teams’ video meeting features are basic but effective.

Microsoft Teams was built as a competitor to Slack and is an especially good idea if you’re part of the Office ecosystem. Until recently, it was mainly focused on business use. However, Microsoft has now stepped out of its three-piece suit and unveiled a free personal version of Teams that works on iPhones and Android devices (no desktop yet), and lets anyone chat, talk, or have video meetings with up to 20 people. You just have to create an account with Microsoft in order to use it.

NOTEWORTHY FEATURES

Create groups of up to 20 people

Can share your screen

Text chats can include photos and audio files

GOOGLE DUO

A MOBILE APP BEST SUITED TO ONE-TO-ONES

Google Duo has a very simplistic web interface.

You don’t really expect Google to only offer one simple videoconferencing app, do you? Besides Google Meet (which is slowly replacing Hangouts, and which was originally meant to be mainly for business users), Google also has its mobile app Duo, which was built as a consumer app. The company recently added invite links to Duo, along with a very basic web interface. In addition, the app now allows you to create groups of up to 12 participants (but only on its mobile versions). All participants must be Duo users, which can be an issue for wider use.

NOTEWORTHY FEATURES

Can record a message

Create groups of up to 12 people

Uses end-to-end encryption

HANGOUTS

SLOWLY BEING SUNSET, BUT STILL USEFUL

Google Hangouts is slowly being sunset, but it’s still available if you want to use it.

And finally, there’s Google Hangouts the “classic” version, which is still available, although the company is not promoting it, especially to G Suite users and corporate customers who are being encouraged to use Meet.

All that being said, if you’re feeling old-fashioned, you can use Hangouts to video chat with up to 10 people if you’re using Gmail or G Suite Basic (up to 25 if you’re using the business or educational G Suite versions). There aren’t a lot of additional features. You can add text messages and share screens, but that’s about it. Still, if you want quick and easy, this is worth checking out.

NOTEWORTHY FEATURES

Up to 10 participants for Gmail users

Voice conversations can have up to 150 participants

STARLEAF

A CORPORATE MEETING APP WITH A FREE BASIC VERSION

Starleaf is an enterprise application that has a free version available.

If you’re not a company, you may not have heard of StarLeaf. It’s a platform for large companies — the kind that doesn’t quote a price on its website; you have to call a salesperson. But it is now offering its basic video and messaging product free of charge for those trying to keep in touch during the pandemic.

NOTEWORTHY FEATURES

Up to 20 participants

Forty-six minutes for each meeting

JITSI MEET

Jitsi Meet is an easy-to-use open-source video platform.

Another “you probably haven’t heard of it” videoconference app, Jitsi Meet is an open-source platform that lets you easily meet online by simply navigating to the site and clicking on “Go.” If you’re more technically inclined, you can build your own via Jitsu Videobridge, but most people will be happy with the quick web version, which offers many features found in more well-known apps, such as chat, session recording (to Dropbox), and the ability to “kick out” unruly participants.

NOTEWORTHY FEATURES

Up to 75 participants (up to 35 for the best experience)

Public or private chat

Can blur the background (currently in beta)

Integrates with Slack, Google Calendar, and Office 365

WHEREBY

Whereby’s free version is rather limited, but it has some fun features.

Whereby’s free version is rather limited compared to some others mentioned here. It gives you the use of a single meeting room with up to four participants, along with the ability to lock rooms (participants have to “knock” to gain entrance). Each room has its own URL that you get to choose, which is great — assuming that nobody else has already taken that name. (For example, I tried whereby.com/testroom and found it was already taken.) But it also has a chat function, lets you share a screen, mute or eject users, and has some fun emoji. If you have more people in mind, the Pro version ($9.99 per month) offers up to 12 participants per room in up to three meeting rooms.

NOTEWORTHY FEATURES

Up to four participants in free version

Screen-sharing

YouTube integration

Ability to “lock” rooms

SPIKE

AN EMAIL APP WITH A SIMPLE VIDEO CONFERENCING FEATURE

The Spike vide app has a very simple interface.

The Spike vide app has a very simple interface.

Spike is an email app that has been adding collaborative features since I reviewed it last year. With the current demand for online meetings, the company has recently added videoconferencing to its repertoire. The feature is very easy to use, especially since you don’t need to register or install anything to use it. Just go to the videoconferencing link, type in your name, and, optionally, a meeting topic. The meeting URL is then copied to your clipboard, or you can send an invite via email. There are few extras in this app: you can share your screen or stick up an emoji, but that’s about it, and the host has no control over the meeting. There are no limits on the number of participants or meeting time.

NOTEWORTHY FEATURES

Simple interface

No limits on participants or meeting times

Source:

We’ve listed a few of the best known video conferencing apps, along with a couple of popular text chat apps that include video calling features. While most of these already have free versions, some are offering access to additional features for those who are currently working from home or who want to check up on friends and relatives online.

There are a number of apps we have not included, such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and FaceTime, that allow you to do video chats. We’ve left them out because they require that all participants be members of a specific social network (Facebook, WhatsApp) or that you use a specific type of device (FaceTime, which is Apple-only).

THE MOST POPULAR VIDEO MEETING APP

Zoom

Zoom’s ease of use and multiple features has made it very popular.

Zoom has become one of the most well-known video conferencing apps, largely because of its easy-to-use interface. Originally, the company pushed Zoom mostly for corporate use, but it has also provided a free basic version for individuals. At first, because Zoom didn’t expect its sudden popularity among non-business users, there were several missteps involving privacy and security. However, the company quickly instituted a number of changes and updates to address these issues (including, most recently, end-to-end encryption for its free users). And its popularity doesn’t appear to have suffered.

The free version of Zoom allows up to 100 users to meet, but there is a 40-minute limit on meetings of more than two people, which is, for many of us, pretty limiting. As of this writing, Zoom was not offering any special deals for those now working at home, but it does have a page offering help and advice to new users.

NOTEWORTHY FEATURES

Host up to 100 participants

Unlimited one-on-one meetings

Forty-minute limit on group meetings

Skype

Skype, now part of Microsoft, has added videoconferencing to its VoIP features.

Skype has been the go-to platform for one-on-one conversations since the beta was released in 2003. Its Meet Now feature (which is accessed by choosing the “Meet Now” button on the left side of the app) allows videoconferencing; up to 50 people can meet with no time limits on meetings.

There is also a separate page that lets you create a free video meeting without having to actually sign up for the service. However, you get more features using the app, so if you’re okay with registering for a free account, you’re better off doing that.

NOTEWORTHY FEATURES

Record the call for up to 30 days

Can blur the background (if you have the app)

Share presentations

Up to 50 participants, no time limit

CISCO WEBEX

A CORPORATE APP WITH A SOLID FREEMIUM VERSION

Cisco Webex is a well-known business conferencing app.

Webex is a video conferencing app that has been around since the ‘90s; it was acquired by Cisco in 2007. While it’s been mainly known as a business application and continues to focus on serving companies, it does have a fairly generous free version that’s worth checking out. For the current emergency, it has widened the features of the freemium version from 50 to 100 participants, and you can meet for up to 50 minutes.

NOTEWORTHY FEATURES

Up to 100 participants

Up to 50 minutes for each meeting

Can record meetings and save locally

GOOGLE MEET

NOW BEING FEATURED ON YOUR GMAIL PAGE

Google Meet recently became available to Gmail users.

Until recently, Google Meet (formerly Hangouts Meet) was only available to educators and those subscribing to Google’s paid service, G Suite. Since then, Google has made Meet available to all users of its free Gmail service — in fact, it has added a link to Meet on the left side of its Gmail online app (and is rolling it out to its mobile apps as well).

Meet offers a very simple way to video chat with colleagues, friends, and family — assuming they all have Google accounts, which is a requirement for both hosts and participants. To start, simply go to Meet, click on “Join or start a meeting,” give the meeting a name (if you want), and send out your invites. You can also schedule a meeting using Google Calendar, and Google includes a number of security features such as the ability to admit or deny entry.

NOTEWORTHY FEATURES

Unlimited meeting time until September 30th; afterward, 60-minute limit

Up to 100 participants

Offers noise cancellation feature

MICROSOFT TEAMS

Chats can include text, photos and audio.

Chats can include text, photos, and audio.

 Teams’ video meeting features are basic, but effective.

Teams’ video meeting features are basic but effective.

Microsoft Teams was built as a competitor to Slack and is an especially good idea if you’re part of the Office ecosystem. Until recently, it was mainly focused on business use. However, Microsoft has now stepped out of its three-piece suit and unveiled a free personal version of Teams that works on iPhones and Android devices (no desktop yet), and lets anyone chat, talk, or have video meetings with up to 20 people. You just have to create an account with Microsoft in order to use it.

NOTEWORTHY FEATURES

Create groups of up to 20 people

Can share your screen

Text chats can include photos and audio files

GOOGLE DUO

A MOBILE APP BEST SUITED TO ONE-TO-ONES

Google Duo has a very simplistic web interface.

You don’t really expect Google to only offer one simple videoconferencing app, do you? Besides Google Meet (which is slowly replacing Hangouts, and which was originally meant to be mainly for business users), Google also has its mobile app Duo, which was built as a consumer app. The company recently added invite links to Duo, along with a very basic web interface. In addition, the app now allows you to create groups of up to 12 participants (but only on its mobile versions). All participants must be Duo users, which can be an issue for wider use.

NOTEWORTHY FEATURES

Can record a message

Create groups of up to 12 people

Uses end-to-end encryption

HANGOUTS

SLOWLY BEING SUNSET, BUT STILL USEFUL

Google Hangouts is slowly being sunset, but it’s still available if you want to use it.

And finally, there’s Google Hangouts the “classic” version, which is still available, although the company is not promoting it, especially to G Suite users and corporate customers who are being encouraged to use Meet.

All that being said, if you’re feeling old-fashioned, you can use Hangouts to video chat with up to 10 people if you’re using Gmail or G Suite Basic (up to 25 if you’re using the business or educational G Suite versions). There aren’t a lot of additional features. You can add text messages and share screens, but that’s about it. Still, if you want quick and easy, this is worth checking out.

NOTEWORTHY FEATURES

Up to 10 participants for Gmail users

Voice conversations can have up to 150 participants

STARLEAF

A CORPORATE MEETING APP WITH A FREE BASIC VERSION

Starleaf is an enterprise application that has a free version available.

If you’re not a company, you may not have heard of StarLeaf. It’s a platform for large companies — the kind that doesn’t quote a price on its website; you have to call a salesperson. But it is now offering its basic video and messaging product free of charge for those trying to keep in touch during the pandemic.

NOTEWORTHY FEATURES

Up to 20 participants

Forty-six minutes for each meeting

JITSI MEET

Jitsi Meet is an easy-to-use open-source video platform.

Another “you probably haven’t heard of it” videoconference app, Jitsi Meet is an open-source platform that lets you easily meet online by simply navigating to the site and clicking on “Go.” If you’re more technically inclined, you can build your own via Jitsu Videobridge, but most people will be happy with the quick web version, which offers many features found in more well-known apps, such as chat, session recording (to Dropbox), and the ability to “kick out” unruly participants.

NOTEWORTHY FEATURES

Up to 75 participants (up to 35 for the best experience)

Public or private chat

Can blur the background (currently in beta)

Integrates with Slack, Google Calendar, and Office 365

WHEREBY

Whereby’s free version is rather limited, but it has some fun features.

Whereby’s free version is rather limited compared to some others mentioned here. It gives you the use of a single meeting room with up to four participants, along with the ability to lock rooms (participants have to “knock” to gain entrance). Each room has its own URL that you get to choose, which is great — assuming that nobody else has already taken that name. (For example, I tried whereby.com/testroom and found it was already taken.) But it also has a chat function, lets you share a screen, mute or eject users, and has some fun emoji. If you have more people in mind, the Pro version ($9.99 per month) offers up to 12 participants per room in up to three meeting rooms.

NOTEWORTHY FEATURES

Up to four participants in free version

Screen-sharing

YouTube integration

Ability to “lock” rooms

SPIKE

AN EMAIL APP WITH A SIMPLE VIDEO CONFERENCING FEATURE

The Spike vide app has a very simple interface.

The Spike vide app has a very simple interface.

Spike is an email app that has been adding collaborative features since I reviewed it last year. With the current demand for online meetings, the company has recently added videoconferencing to its repertoire. The feature is very easy to use, especially since you don’t need to register or install anything to use it. Just go to the videoconferencing link, type in your name, and, optionally, a meeting topic. The meeting URL is then copied to your clipboard, or you can send an invite via email. There are few extras in this app: you can share your screen or stick up an emoji, but that’s about it, and the host has no control over the meeting. There are no limits on the number of participants or meeting time.

NOTEWORTHY FEATURES

Simple interface

No limits on participants or meeting times

Source: https://www.theverge.com/21286781/best-video-call-apps-free

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