A look at some top video conferencing apps – The Straits Times

With so many video conferencing apps in the market now, one is really spoilt for choice. Trevor Tan looks at five popular apps.

CISCO WEBEX MEETINGS


PHOTO: CISCO

Available on PC, Mac, Android and iOS

This app is probably best suited for companies already using Cisco’s extensive video conferencing hardware.

However, it also offers a free plan for individuals. And due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Cisco has upped the scale of the free plan to 100 participants (up from 50 previously) in each meeting.

You can also now meet for 50 minutes in each meeting with the free plan (it was limited to 40 minutes previously).

When you sign up, you will receive your personal meeting room link. Thus, it is easy for participants to join your meeting. The only downside is you do not have much access to the 24/7 customer support with the free plan.

I have joined several video conference meetings in WebEx and found the app really intuitive and easy to use. Furthermore, the video streaming and audio quality remains solid even when I was talking to someone in the US.

GOOGLE MEET


PHOTO: GOOGLE

Available on Chrome (PC and Mac), Android and iOS

Previously known as Google Hangouts Meet, this app is a no-brainer if you are working in a company that is using Google’s G Suite system. Depending on the price plan, Google Meet can allow video conferences of up to 250 people.

With the app’s clean interface, it is easy to create and invite colleagues to a video conference meeting by getting a meeting link to share, scheduling a meeting in Google Calendar or starting an instant meeting.

With the latest update, the Gmail mobile app now includes a Meet icon for you to quickly set up or join meetings. There is also a live captioning feature that needs to be enabled by individual users.

It is also now free to use for any individual with an e-mail account, though limited to an hour of video call after Sept 30 (no time limit until then) and up to 100 participants for each meeting. However, you will need to sign up for the Google account as a security measure.

MICROSOFT TEAMS


PHOTO: MICROSOFT

Available on PC, Mac, Android and iOS

For individuals and businesses using Microsoft’s Office 365 productivity suite, the Microsoft Teams video conferencing app is the obvious choice.

Plus, it allows you to get a free account as long as you have a Microsoft ID, such as an outlook.com or hotmail.com ID. With a free Teams account, you can invite up to 300 people (inclusive of yourself) to a video conferencing call. However, there is a time limit of 24 hours per session.

You can also share what’s on your screen during the video meetings, such as your desktop, a PowerPoint presentation or a file. You can also share and edit content in real-time during video meetings using Office apps such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Paid version of Teams offer features such as meeting recordings and admin tools for managing users and apps. However, individual users and most small businesses probably do not need these advanced features.

ZOOM CLOUD MEETINGS


PHOTO: ZOOM

Available on PC, Mac, Android and iOS

Zoom received plenty of flak in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic due to “Zoom-bombing”, or people hijacking Zoom video conference calls.

However, those incidents were more due to meeting hosts not enabling security features like setting passwords for meetings. Now, these security features are enabled by default, so no such loopholes can be exploited by “Zoom-bombers”.

There is a reason why Zoom has exploded in popularity during the pandemic. It is a very easy-to-use but yet powerful app.

Signing up is a breeze and a few clicks after you have done that, you will be talking to your friends, colleagues or family in video meetings.

Its free plan allows up to 100 participants and an unlimited number of meetings. However, there is a 40 minute limit on group meetings.

Furthermore, not many video conferencing apps allow you to touch up your appearance like Zoom, so you will always look good during video calls.

CLICKMEETING


PHOTO: CLICKMEETING

Available on desktop browsers, Android and iOS

For small businesses that need to hold webinars (with a presenter and attendees) on a regular basis, this app is a good option.

It offers an easy, step-by-step way of setting up an account and creating webinars. You can create a customised URL for the webinar, so your attendees can remember it easily.

When creating a webinar, you can choose to have a scheduled or permanent event. The latter is great for recurring meetings.

Webinars will only begin when the presenter joins the event. There is a drawing tool that allows the presenter to highlight text and draw on the presentation during the event.

It does not have a free plan, only a 30-day free trial. After which, you can opt for the cheapest US$25 per month plan (billed annually), which lets you have one presenter and up to 25 attendees. ClickMeeting offers plans for webinars supporting up to four presenters and 1,000 attendees.


Correction note: This article has been edited to reflect the correct account requirements for using Google Meet.

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Author: HOCAdmin