Video conferencing is changing the way people work. Software and apps that allow workers at home or in the field to connect remotely with colleagues have brought a new kind of productivity to meetings and teamwork. While Zoom may be the most popular teleconferencing option, there are plenty of other tools and apps to connect teams. Each offers its own unique features, so it's worth exploring them all and determining which is best for you and your team.
This robust platform works as a two-way virtual meeting room for up to 100 attendees on the free version (there's a paid tier that can host up to 1000). Controlled by whoever hosts it, there are useful features such as 256-bit TLS encryption, private and group chat, screen-sharing, and advanced scheduling. Both mobile and desktop versions are easy to use. And not just for work; many exercise studios and learning institutions also use Zoom to deliver online classes.
Skype has been around for a long time, and they've perfected their platform for one-on-one or small group meetings. Even the free version has nifty features, such as the ability to blur distracting (or embarrassing) backgrounds, live subtitling, and a record function. For those looking to meet with larger groups, there's a premium service for businesses as well as one for educators.
If your organization already uses Slack, you may be aware of the video call function. It's great for individual or small group calls right from the application, which can be useful for coordinating tasks and milestones. The platform can also be integrated with other services your team may be using, such as Dropbox and Gmail. There's a free tier as well as enterprise versions with enhanced encryption and features.
This free service has the option of connecting small groups and teams via phone link or internet. Its most useful feature is the moderator control, which can help keep meetings moving along. Another advantage is there's no download needed. The platform is usable across international borders, for free, with screen sharing and text chat included. Premium service, with enhanced security, is also available.
Hangouts is a simple platform originally designed for friends and family to socialize. However, it can be useful for work teams in that you can record sessions, share screens, and use video or messenger modes, depending on available bandwidth and traffic. It also syncs with Google calendar, your contact lists, analytics, and other Google tools, which is handy for businesses that use G Suite.
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For short meetings and small groups, the free tier of UberConference should do the trick. For sessions longer than 45 minutes and teams larger than 10 people, UberConference provides a low-cost business service complete with analytics and custom hold music. Both tiers benefit from mobile use, document sharing, and recording features.
Facebook is used for many things: staying in touch with family, connecting with long lost friends, sharing funny videos, and more. But its live feature is increasingly used to reach large groups of people with broadcasts, live streams, and demonstrations. You can customize your public audience and pre-schedule screenings and events. During your event, participants can live chat and comment. And retro-fitting platform functionality for a completely private meeting with many participants is easy to do.
Another video streaming service that can be re-purposed for meetings and demonstrations, YouTube Live has the capacity to host large private live streams. Accessed by private link, the event allows for 2-way communication, automatic captioning, and location tags. As might be expected from this granddaddy of platforms, support is thorough and easy to access every step of the way.
Even the free version of this meeting app from Cisco comes loaded with features to make group events run smoothly. Meet with up to 100 team members using private chat, screen sharing, and record it all for reviewing later. 1G of cloud storage is included. Security is impressive, with TLS 1.2 and AES 256-bit encryption, and can be enhanced even further with remote access VPN.
Robust cloud-based video conferencing is available by subscription from BlueJeans. Aside from an initial 30-day trial, there is no free tier, but excellent basic features and HD quality may make it worth the investment. With Dolby voice support and dashboard and scheduling functions, this app can be seamlessly accessed across operating systems, using mobile or desktop.
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