Let’s Talk About Conferencing
COVID-19 has changed how the world’s workforce stays connected. Video conferencing apps like Zoom and Google have reshaped how we communicate. Today we’re going to dive into some of the more popular video conferencing services that are out there.
We start with what is probably the most popular app in the bunch, Zoom. In our previous blog post we discussed Zoom’s intention to develop end-to-end encryption for their paid users. This comes after very serious backlash from privacy advocates around the world. While the lack of end-to-end encryption is a serious security flaw, Zoom has a lot of benefits as well.
- Anyone can join a Zoom meeting. No paid membership is required. This is huge if you’re connecting with other organizations on a regular basis. It’s also a great way to give Zoom a test drive and decide whether you want to invest in a paid subscription.
- Zoom is really easy to use. The platform was built with users in mind. A conferencing app needs to be easily accessible and more importantly, user-friendly.
- Zoom allows you to create breakout rooms. Breakout rooms allow for large teams to break down into small groups which are great for team-building activities or all-staff meetings with a need for department-specific content in between.
- Backgrounds. While this isn’t a business-critical feature, a lot of us are working from home and perhaps you’d rather not show off your personal space. Now you don’t have to.
- No end-to-end encryption at the moment.
- Non-paying users are limited to a 45 min video call. This time limit is currently being waived by Zoom due to COVID-19.
Up next we have Google Hangouts. Google has put a lot of hard work into its suite of apps. Google Hangouts offers multiple forms of communication including video conferencing, texting, phone calls, and instant messaging. Starting a free G Suite account is easy. Once you get set up, you’ll gain access to Google Hangouts. From here you can create a new meeting and simply provide the link to participants so they can join. Like Zoom, Hangouts has its own pros and cons.
- G Suite accounts are free for individual users as well as non-profit organizations (verification is required).
- Hangouts is compatible with major platforms like macOS, Windows, iOS, and Android.
- Hangouts is easy to use. Fully embracing the G Suite environment also allows for cross-utilization of their services. For example, if you’re an avid Google Calendar user – you’ll automatically see an option to “Add Hangout’s link” when setting up a new event.
- Hangouts integrate directly with Google Chrome to allow for messaging right from your browser (Additional setup is required)
- Lack of tech support. While Google has plenty of avenues to get help, the process of getting assistance and getting the right answer can sometimes feel frustrating.
- While Hangouts does offer calling, this needs to be set up as a Google Voice number which is an additional cost.
- Hangouts were originally developed as a consumer product, however, Google is making great strides to elevate the platform with new business-focused features to stay competitive.
CISCO is known for its breakthroughs in networking equipment like switches and routers but did you know they also had a conferencing service? Meet CISCO Webex. Webex works on a Mac or Windows machine as well as mobile operating systems.
- User-friendly interface. You can easily share your desktops during a meeting to present to your team or pitch to a prospective client.
- Whiteboards. This is a useful in-app feature that creates a virtual whiteboard for notes or other important material.
- Excellent calendar integration with G Suite or Office 365.
- Excellent HD audio and video
- Launching a meeting may take a few tries. Sometimes the native app can get stalled requiring you to close the window and try again.
- CISCO’s ‘Call Me’ feature is an additional cost. This is similar to Google’s Voice offering.
RingCentral is one of the industry’s leading VoIP providers. The company was founded in 1999. They provide phone, conferencing, and meeting room services. The platform is easy to set up and use; offering high-quality audio and video feeds for your team and outside invitees. Whether you’re a small business or at the enterprise level, RingCentral is scalable and secure.
- Let RingCentral take care of the setup for you. Whether you’re just taking advantage of RingCentral’s VoIP system or diving right into their entire catalogue of products, RingCentral has a great customer support team and they’re always happy to help.
- High quality HD video and audio calls.
- The RingCentral mobile app is user intuitive. Once your account is set up, you’ll be up and running in no time.
- RingCentral has what is probably one of the most user-friendly Admin consoles. The console allows for new licenses to be created. It also allows you to customize your RingCentral environment to fit your needs on a per department or per-user level.
- Pricing. With RingCentral, you get what you pay for. They have a tier’d plan system where a per-user cost could go up to $59.99 for their ‘Ultimate Plan’
- Users have reported that the video system can lag. While this isn’t consistent across the board, this should be taken into consideration.