Videoconferencing, am I right? Just a few months an afterthought, this type of communication tool has been the norm for many of us during the last couple of months. And if this experience is anything to go by, videoconferencing will become more common from now on, quarantine in effect or not.
We’ve taken the liberty of looking up the most recommended videoconferencing apps to give you an idea of what service you should use. So buckle up! Here we go:
Arguably the most popular service, Zoom is considered the overall “best” video conference application for its versatility and reliability. It comes in free and paid tiers, with the free option supporting calls with up to 100 participants, with the caveat of being limited to 40 minutes if there are three or more participants. It’s available on both desktop and mobile, with the possibility of using it on web as well.
While Google has stopped promoting this in favor of Meet (more on that in a second), Hangouts is still a solid option. Video calls can have up to 10 participants, but audio calls can have up to 150, which is definitely a plus. You can also send text messages and share screens. Not a popular choice, but not a bad one at all.
Jitsi might not be that well-known, but it has some cool things going for it. For starters, it’s a open-source platform with a simple approach of just navigating to the site and clicking “Go”. You can build your own version, but for non-tech savvy users, the vanilla version will be more than enough. It includes chat and even session recording to Dropbox, but also integrates with other services like Google Calendar, Office 365 and Slack. Up to 75 participants can join (though a maximum of 35 is recommended for the best experience). And if you don’t want others to see how messy your room is, you can blur your background.
You might not know it, but this classic app has existed for a good while. While targeted mostly at serving companies, its free version is a good enough option for many cases. Up to 100 participants can join (up from the regular 50 in light of the recent developments) and there’s no time limit right now either. Call-in for audio is available as well.
Skype Meet Now
You know Skype, right? Well, while regular Skype is more for personal use and one-on-one calls, its Meet Now option essentially transforms it into a videoconferencing app. While you can create a free video meeting without registering, using the app will give you more features to work with. You can share presentations an blur background as well. Weirdly enough, Skype doesn’t specify the maximum amount of participants, arguing that it will depend on factors like your device and platform.
Whereby’s free version has son limitations to it. Only up to four participants can join a call. But it’s a good choice if you want some privacy or a controlled environment: participants must “knock” before entering, and you can lock rooms if you so desire. Beyond that you get the usual goodies: screen sharing, chatting, mute or eject users and even some cute emoji. We wouldn’t be so sure about recommending the paid version, though: it’s 9.99 a month and only gives you up to 12 participants.
While Slack is mostly meant for chatting, it does have voice and video call support. We’ve included it for its immense popularity, but keep in mind it only supports one-on-one calls on its free tier. You’ll need to pay up for true videoconferencing.
Crisis aside, one of Slack’s main competitors has experienced unprecedented growth this past few weeks. Teams is a fantastic idea if your organization is deeply integrated with Microsoft’s ecosystem, as you’ll have it all in one place and will be able to do things like live editing documents and the sort.
This one is more on the professional side, but they’re offering a free version for those trying to have some work done during the current crisis. Meetings have a maximum time of 45 minutes, but up to 20 participants can join.
only available to educators and those subscribing to Google’s paid service until recently, Meet has just been made available to free Gmail users as well. It’s a simple enough app, though you are required to have a gmail account to participate. You can schedule meetings with Calendar and admit or deny entry to participants, which can go up to 100. Right now, time is unlimited, but after September there will be a reasonable 60-minute limit.
While mainly tailored towards gamers, streamers and even some fandom communities, Discord is a very powerful tool that can be taken advantage of. And most don’t know it actually does have videocalls included! Casual use for friends and family will be the best option, but it’s a good choice for building chat rooms as well.