As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to limit face-to-face association, Video Conferencing is a Craze now.
Most of us rely on video calls to keep in touch with coworkers, family, and friends, and if you’re also facing financial difficulties, it’s best for free… Zoom continues to top the list of video conferencing apps, but there are plenty of apps that will allow you to meet other people online for free.
We’ve listed some of the better-known video conferencing apps, along with a couple of popular text chat apps that include video calling features. While most of these already have free versions, some offer access to additional features for those who are currently working from home or who want to control their friends and family online.
There are several apps that we haven’t included, like Facebook, WhatsApp, and FaceTime, that allow you to make video chats. We have put them aside because they require that all participants be members of a specific social network (Facebook, WhatsApp) or that they use a particular type of device (FaceTime, which is only Apple). We have also tried to focus on the applications that allow you to participate without having to download the application (unless you are the host).
The good idea is to try one or two for yourself to see how well they fit with your style and that of your friends. This list, however, is an excellent place to start.
THE MOST POPULAR VIDEO CONFERENCING SOFTWARE
Zoom has become one of the best-known video conferencing applications, mainly due to its easy-to-use interface. Initially, the company promoted Zoom primarily for corporate use, but also provided a free basic version for individuals. At first, because Zoom wasn’t expecting its sudden popularity among non-commercial users, there were several missteps related to privacy and security. However, the company quickly instituted a series of changes and updates to address these issues (although it is not creating end-to-end encryption for its free users). And its popularity does not seem to have suffered.
The free version of Zoom allows up to 100 users to meet, but there is a 40 minute limit on meetings of more than two people, which, for many of us, is quite limiting. At the time of writing, Zoom was not offering special offers for those who now work at home, but it does have a page that provides help and advice to new users.
Holds up to 100 participants
Unlimited individual meetings
Forty minute limit on group meetings
SKYPE MEET NOW
A LONG TERM VISIT FOR ONLINE CALLS
Skype has been the access platform for individual conversations since the beta version was launched in 2003. Its Meet Now function (accessed by selecting the “Meet Now” button on the left side of the application) enables video conferencing; Up to 50 people can meet with no time limit on meetings.
There is also a separate page that allows you to create a free video meeting without having to sign up for the service. However, you get more features with the app, so if you agree to sign up for a free account, you better do it.
Record the call for up to 30 days
You can blur the background (if you have the app)
Up to 50 participants, with no time limit.
A CORPORATE APP WITH A SOLID VERSION OF FREEMIUM
Webex is a video-conferencing application that exists since the 90s; Cisco acquired it in 2007. While it’s primarily known as a business app and continues to focus on serving businesses, it does have a relatively generous free version that’s worth checking out. For the current emergency, it has expanded the features of the freemium version from 50 to 100 participants and can meet for up to 50 minutes.
Up to 100 participants
Up to 50 minutes for each meeting.
Can record meetings and save locally
NOW PRESENTED ON YOUR GMAIL PAGE
Until recently, Google Meet (formerly Hangouts Meet) was only available to educators and those who subscribed to Google’s paid service, G Suite. Since then, Google has made Meet available to all users of its free Gmail service; in fact, you’ve added a link to Meet on the left side of your Gmail online app.
Meet offers a straightforward way to video chat with colleagues, friends, and family, assuming everyone has Google accounts, which is a requirement for both hosts and participants. To get started, go to Meet, click “Join or start a meeting,” name the meeting (if desired) and send your invitations. You can also schedule an appointment with Google Calendar, and Google includes several security features, such as the ability to admit or deny entry.
Unlimited meeting time until September 30; then 60-minute limit
Up to 100 participants
Offers noise-canceling function
A BETTER MOBILE APP SUITABLE FOR PEOPLE
You don’t expect Google only to offer a simple video conferencing app, do you? In addition to Google Meet (which is slowly replacing Hangouts, and which was initially intended primarily for business users), Google also has its Duo mobile app, which was created as a consumer app. The company recently added invitation links to Duo, along with a virtual web interface. Furthermore, the application now allows you to create groups of up to 12 participants (but only in their mobile versions). All participants must be Duo users, which can be a problem for broader use.
You can record a message
Create groups of up to 12 people.
Use end-to-end encryption
AN APP FOR CORPORATE MEETINGS WITH A FREE BASIC VERSION
If it’s not a company, you may not have heard of StarLeaf. It is a platform for large companies, the kind that does not quote a price on its website; You have to call a seller. But now it’s offering its introductory video and messaging product for free to those trying to stay in touch during the pandemic.
Up to 20 participants
Forty-six minutes for each meeting
OPEN SOURCE WITH MANY FEATURES
Another video conferencing application, “you probably haven’t heard of it,” Jitsi Meet, is an open-source platform that allows you to quickly meet online simply by browsing the site and clicking “Go.” If you have a more significant technical bent, you can create yours through the Jitsu Video bridge. Still, most people will be happy with the fast web version, which offers many features found in more popular applications, such as chat, session recording ( on Dropbox), and the ability to “kick out” rogue participants.
Public or private chat
You can blur the background (currently in beta)
Integrates with Slack, Google Calendar, and Office 365
INDIVIDUAL ROOMS WITH UP TO FOUR PARTICIPANTS
So the free version is quite limited compared to some others mentioned here. It offers you the use of a single meeting room with up to four participants, along with the ability to close spaces (participants must “tap” to access). Each room has its URL that you can choose from, which is excellent, assuming no one else has taken that name. (For example, I tried whereby.com/testroom and found it was already in use.) But it also has a chat feature, it allows you to share a screen, mute or eject users, and it has some fun emojis.
If you have more people in mind, the Pro version (99 9.99 per month) offers 12 participants per room in three meeting rooms.
Ability to “close” rooms
AN EMAIL APPLICATION WITH A SIMPLE VIDEO CONFERENCE FEATURE
Spike is an email app that has added collaboration features since I reviewed last year. With the current demand for online meetings, the company has recently added video conferencing to its repertoire. The quality is effortless to use, especially since you don’t need to register or install anything to use it. Just go to the video conference link, type your name, and optionally a meeting topic. The meeting URL is copied to your clipboard, or you can email an invitation. There are a few extras in this app: You can share your screen or paste an emoji, but that’s it, and the host has no control over the meeting. There are no limits on the number of participants or the meeting time.
There are no limits to participants or meeting times.
VIDEO MEETINGS WITH CHAT APPLICATIONS
Many of us are already using Slack and Microsoft Teams, which have a limited number of video conferencing features. If you’re wondering if you can use a free version of Slack or Teams to do video meetings, here is the information:
A NEW FREE VERSION WITH NO LIMITS
Microsoft Teams was created as a competitor to Slack. Because it’s part of the Microsoft application ecosystem, it’s a good idea if you want to collaborate on multiple Office documents, for example, and it offers video conferencing features. Microsoft has been offering educators and G Suite payers the opportunity to use Office 365 E1 for free for six months. Most recently, it introduced a free version of Teams for consumers with no limits on the number of people.