Video conferencing as a term was mostly synonymous with Skype. However, the COVID-19 lockdown and work from home scenario has made us look beyond Skype and embrace video conferencing apps for connecting with friends, acquaintance and colleagues. With cheaper access to data and devices with high resolution cameras, video calling is literally having a moment of reckoning right now. The best part here is that there are multiple players in this segment offering unique solution for different use case. Also Read - Work from home: A look at Twitter, Square, Facebook, Google and Microsoft's long-term plan
Work from home: Video calling apps for enterprises
This is a segment that has seen an unprecedented demand in the past few months. Zoom is the surprise superstar during this work from home phase but there are others trying to catch up as well. These services are meant for teams that go in double or triple digits and are doing work from remote location. These platforms also make it easier to organize your calls and take notes on the fly. They are also accessible across platforms and device is never is a restriction. Also Read - Work from home: Essential gadgets and gear to maintain productivity and health
Zoom: Champion of Work from home
That brings us to Zoom, the goldstar of this moment. If you are working from home then there is a fair chance you used Zoom at least once to connect with your colleagues. Zoom simplifies the process of connecting in a big way. All you need is to click on the link and then get connected either via the browser or the app. With free tier, Zoom lets you add up to 100 participants and run a call for as long as 40-minute per group. This includes HD voice and video and screen sharing as well. Zoom does have security issues but its enterprise options starting at $14.99 per month is more suitable for large organizations. Also Read - Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel launch new 50GB Work From Home 4G data vouchers for Rs 251
Microsoft Teams entered as the scene as a challenger to Slack in the team communication space. Now, it has become the go to platform for collaboration with over 44 million daily active users. It is a chat first interface designed for people to collaborate with their colleagues across teams and verticals. It adds additional tools like video conferencing and meetings and sharing screen as well. It takes some of the key elements of Slack and tops it with Skype for Business for an all new communication platform. It is available only to Microsoft Office 365 customers.
Google, as always, is a laggard in this space. The company behind Hangouts did not jump into this space immediately. However, there are a number of organizations who still rely on Google Suite of applications for work. For video conferencing, Google introduced a new service called Hangouts Meet. The tool is designed for all G Suite and G Suite for Education customers globally. With Google Meet, you can host meetings with a large set of users, up to 250 participants per call. It also allows for live streaming for up to 1,00,000 viewers within a domain.
Work from home: Video calling apps for social connection
Not all of the calls while working from home needs to be done via an enterprise grade service. For calls that are about simplicity and quick connection, there are some consumer tools that do a really good job. There are a number of these apps available right now. Here is a look at some of them.
WhatsApp is one of the most widely used application in the world with over two billion users worldwide. The service is so popular that if your friend or colleague has a smartphone then they should have the app installed on their device. WhatsApp makes it easier to make voice or video calls even on slow bandwidth connection. The only downside of WhatsApp is that anyone with your mobile number can call you. It offers end-to-end encrypted calls and is obviously the easiest app to use.
The second app that is as popular as WhatsApp is Facebook Messenger. It also offers voice and video calling options and if your friend is on Facebook, they must be on Messenger as well. It also offers group options and allows you call a large number of users at once.
If you have an iDevice then FaceTime is a no-brainer. The best advantage of FaceTime is that it works seamlessly across iPhone, iPad and Mac. It also supports group chat function where you can add up to 32 users. In order to use FaceTime, you will need an iPhone, iPad or Mac and an associated Apple ID or compatible number.
Google Duo is probably one of the most versatile video calling service. It works really well and the quality is among the best out there. Duo is free to use and is available for a variety of devices. From easy sign up to quality calling experience, Duo has got most basic things covered.
This is not the most popular video calling app in India but Houseparty‘s significance or clever features cannot be discounted. The app went viral during COVID-19 lockdown and has been around since 2018 but has caught attention in a big way. Houseparty is not just a video calling service but also the one that treats it as a face to face social network. It is available across iOS, Android, macOS and Chrome.