Maintain Contact: 8 Video Conferencing Apps To Use For More Methodical Meetings

In recent times, Work From Home or WFH as we like calling it has become the reality and connecting with our colleagues despite the distance barrier, has become all the more pivotal. Our saving grace, (for real) are the applications that help us connect seamlessly, stay on top of things and be more productive. Because, we all know, that if not for these, lazing around comes more naturally to most of us (workaholics, we aren't counting you). To help expand your options, we're sharing a list of top video conferencing apps you can rely on for when you're working from home, studying from home or for when you simply want to connect over long distances.

Google Meet

Google owned, you can make Meet your go-to for large meetings, primarily because most of us already have a Google account. Simply create a shareable link and emails participants (it also integrates with Google Calendar) to join the conference. A maximum of 10 people can video chat at a time while just voice conversations can have over 150 participants. You can share presentations and also use the chat box to text if not talk. Most web browsers support Meet.

You can also download the application on either Android or iOS. 

Meet Now

Meet Now is an extension of Skype. Once you set up a meeting, you can invite both Skype contact and users who do not use Skype. Participants can join irrespective of whether they have an account. This service one has multiple features. Aside from being able to chat, record call, mute or unmute, Meet Now can also blur backgrounds before joining a call. It is also super easy to share presentations and other work material. Meet Now automatically stores a recording on the call for upto 30 days. 

Cisco WebEx

Cisco's web conferencing solution, WebEx has a freemium version that allows upto 100 participants in a meeting that can go on for an unlimited amount of time! There's no limit to the number of calls you can place and you also get 1 GB of cloud storage with your free account (what we call a double whammy for employers). Options to share files, screens or recording calls for future references is available too. There's a WebEx website, desktop app and mobile application available for use. 


Zoom

One of the most popular video conferencing options out there. Users with a free account can host up to 100 participants for about 40 minutes. Note that conferences with 3 or more come with this time limit. However, there is no limit to the number of meetings you can host. If you want to rid yourself of the time constraints, there's an option to upgrade. You can join a Zoom call through the web,or their desktop and mobile applications. Free users have the option of recording video or audio.

Disclaimer: There has been some speculation regarding flawed security policies and Zoom not being safe to use.

Jitsi Meet

Jitsi guarantees secure video conferencing solutions and is free to use. Unlimited number of participants can join virtually for an unlimited duration. Users can pick between using the hosted version of Jitsi or can host their own video conference. The service supports phone-in audio, screen sharing and has mobile apps for both Android and iOS. Recording your calls can be a little tricky, because you will have to stream to YouTube and then share the link in its private or unlisted form or download the file.


Free Conference

For large groups and we mean large, Free Conference comes handy. Here you can have just 5 video participants but about 1000 audio participants via telephone (a good choice for someone looking to host workshops, classes etc) for an unlimited duration. There's a catch though, although it says "free", this is a premium service. But with the above mentioned decent free options, it's worth trying. There's no option to record a call unless you're using the premium version. Free users can however download the app on their phones aside from using the browser. 

Signal

Touted to be one of the most private and secure messaging and conferencing apps, Signal allows encrypted video chats. Built features such as image editing, to crop, flip or sketch on your outgoing photos is available. This is a free service that is only available for use in its application form on Android or iOS phones. Desktop devices do not currently support video calls on Signal.

Microsoft Teams

Companies that use Outlook, this one's a good option! Through the Microsoft Teams application you can talk to team members privately or in specific channels. Schedule a meeting using the Teams app or through Outlook and video chat with up to 250 members. You can share presentations and chat during call.