With the COVID-19 outbreak, we’re seeing businesses going for remote work online, teachers are holding classes through video meetings, even major events are being held online (such as Apple’s WWDC developer’s conference). With physical contact being discouraged, it is no surprise that businesses have decided have to conduct all their meetings online. But, not all video meeting services are the same. Some are better suited for certain activities; some are free whereas others come at a cost. Here are the top 12 video meeting/conferencing apps we’ve found for you to choose from.
Zoom is without a doubt one of the most used video meeting app today as it tops the free downloaded app section in Apple’s app store. The app saw a 1,270% increase in downloads just between February 22 and March 22 this year for a total of 17.2 million downloads on iOS and Android!
You can start with the free basic version of the app or upgrade to the $19.99/month package for larger meetings. The top enterprise-level package allows up to 200 meeting participants, with unlimited meeting lengths, unlimited cloud storage, and custom e-mails, etc. Zoom offers a ton of features and including screen-sharing, live chat and even allows for you to send files and photos. This app is ideal if you’re looking to hold meetings at an affordable rate.
2) Google Hangouts
This app has actually been split into two types. Hangouts Meet is used for businesses whereas Hangouts Chat is used for connecting with your friends, a team chat service. This has created a nice balance between parties who wish to use the app for business means and who wish to use it for connecting with friends. For Hangouts Meet you require a G-Suite subscription. Then you can connect with up to 250 people at a time with the advanced version. (Google has also said Google Hangouts will offer free upgrades for G Suite users amid the COVID-19 outbreak).
You can either go for the free version of the app or subscribe to the G Suite Business package for $12/month or the G Suite Enterprise package for $25/month. The only drawback would be that the free version only allows for a maximum hangout of 25 people. Also, you require and Google account to set up a meeting in the first place.
GoToMeeting is another video meeting app and it actually quite simple to use. It allows for a private chat, real-time chat, screen-sharing, on-demand webcasting, and presentation tools. The app itself comes at the starting price of $12/month which allows for up to 150 participants. You can go for the Business package for $16/month which allows for up to 250 participants. You can also request for a higher custom package for up to 3,000 participants. You are given unlimited video and audio meetings whereas the Business account also provides transcripts and free unlimited recording.
This app is perfect for socializing and chatting, you can connect with up to eight friends at a time. The app works by connecting to your Facebook and Snapchat so you can see which ones of your friends are already on Houseparty. Then you simply have to send invites to people to start a video chat. You can create different house party’s with your friends and even join a house party your friend is in if you weren’t invited. (That does make it a bit invasive).
The app offers split screening, group chat recording and even secret chats between participants. The best thing about this app is the games. Houseparty currently has four games for you to choose from i.e. Heads up, Trivia, Chips, and Guac.
Microsoft Skype is a bit outdated but is still used nevertheless. In order to hold a meeting or to invite someone to a meeting, they must have a pre-existing Skype account. The app itself does offer some nice features considering it is free of cost. For example, you can hold meetings for up to four hours with a maximum video meeting size of 50. With Skype Business you are given 150 video meeting slots.
6) Microsoft Teams
Microsoft has replaced Skype for Business with Microsoft Teams as Microsoft’s online meeting service. Microsoft Teams is a chat-based collaborative tool which provides remote teams the ability to share information and collaborate online, it allows for screen sharing and screen recording and file sharing. It also has a unique fun feature called Background Blur which permits users to blur backgrounds and to only focus on the individual. This is perfect if you don’t have a private space to work with. Although it is free of cost, users may find its interface hard to work with.
7) Cisco WebEx
Cisco’s WebEx is perfect for companies with a large number of team members or exceptionally large enterprises. It provides a number of features including video conferencing, screen sharing, virtual whiteboard, recording meetings, Cisco claims there is no limit to the number of people you wish to host the event for. You can go for the 30-day free trial with up to 200 participants. Pricing starts at $13.50/month for the starter package.
8) Apple FaceTime
This one is only for the Apple users out there. It’s a pretty simple app, perfect for checking in on a loved on. In order to facetime someone, you simply have to go to their contact page and press the FaceTime button. You can also record your FaceTime calls on your Mac.
You can also go to group-chats. You can add up to 32 people in a group call. FaceTime is more suited for socializing as compared to professional use. There are also fun features such as the Animoji function, adding filters and stickers to your screen, etc.
BlueJeans is a video conferencing service that supports content sharing, meeting recording and chatting. You can add up to 25 participants and up to 100 with the Large-Meetings add on. You do not require any software as you can also launch meetings from a browser. You can choose from the Bluejeans Standard Package for $9.99/month or the Bluejeans Pro Package for $13.99/month. You can also go for the BlueJeans Enterprise package. BlueJeans allows its users to try out their free trial before subscribing to one of their packages.
Slack is technically a workplace chat app, it allows for team members to work together seamlessly. It has a built-in video conferencing function which also allows for screen sharing. With Slack’s free account you can go for one-on-one video chat whereas you can also use a customized enterprise pricing offer to hold larger meetings.
You may recall Whereby by its previous name Appear.in. They got caught up in a trademark dispute due to which they could no longer use the name. However, they took the change as a way to rebrand themselves.
As for the features, you can add up to 50 people in one video call. Meetings can be recorded and downloaded and you can also chat online. It allows for Trello, Google Drive, and YouTube and calendar integrations and also allows for screen sharing. You will have to subscribe to one of their packages. The basic free version is available for personal use where you can hold meetings with up to 4 people. Next, you have the Pro package for $9.99/month and allows for up to 12-member meetings. Finally, you have the business package is available for $59.99/month which allows for up to 50-member meetings.
The final addition to our list is BigBlueButton. This web conferencing system is specifically built for educators and online learning. It allows for real-time sharing of audio, video and slides, screen sharing and live chat. It also comes with whiteboard capability. BigBlueButton is a free open-source tool that comes with many add-ons and integrations from 3rd party developers to allow for customized online experiences.