Image credit: Zoom

Online Video Conferencing Apps: Which Platform Is the Best Choice?

With the rise of the remote workforce, finding the right conference call service is crucial. Not everyone can be in the room for the meetings, these services allow you to connect with everyone quickly and easily.
By Hazel Nguyen | 8 min read
on April 28, 2020
Image credit: Zoom

Not long ago, video conferencing apps were a luxury only affordable to large companies and executives. However, today, organizations of all sizes are investing in virtual meeting solutions that enable them to meet with employees, colleagues, and customers through video meetings. It’s no longer a question of how much the collaboration software products cost, it’s all about the convenience and power to break the barrier of traditional audio and display systems.

In the same sense, today’s video conferencing apps have outdone the traditional systems since they add facial expressions and physical gestures, which make virtual meetings truly effective.

The impact of using video conferencing platform is finally dawning on all businesses, and it is no surprise that over 98% of medium and large businesses are willing to buy video conferencing solutions, with two-thirds of SMBs planning to invest in one.

These apps that solve the issue of not having a meeting in person pretty well and some are better with the various integrations included. Here are the best online video conferencing apps you can take advantage of.

1. Zoom

Zoom is a videoconferencing solution, online meeting, group discussion or online learning. The zoom operating platform is very simple and easy to use. Online classrooms often use Zoom because of the convenient feature that supports the best image, video, audio, and screen sharing on Windows, Mac, IOS and Android operating systems.

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Image Credit: Zoom

Zoom is already working on new features from user feedback from the work-at-home surge. One would be a tool, inspired in part by consumer apps like Instagram and Snapchat, that would provide a filter that frames a user’s face in better lighting, or with blemishes tuned out. “We want to have a touch up to your appearance just from one feature,” says Eric Yuan- Zoom CEO. 

Another feature that has moved up on the product pipeline came from feedback from a professor using Zoom to host lectures for his class. The new lecture-focused feature would make it so that every student’s video was appearing as though shot from the same angle, allowing the teacher to see how students are reacting – and who is paying attention – like they were physically in class. 

Moreover, Zoom supports up to 1000 interactive video participants and can cater for up to 10,000 view-only partakers. The solution is entirely versatile and can easily be tapped into from various devices and locations. Gaining fast popularity provides a pared-down service for group video calls. Even better, this free video conferencing app has a free plan, which allows businesses to host an unlimited number of one-on-one meetings and 40-minute group meetings with up to 100 participants.

Zoom Pros

  • Can be used on phones and computers
  • Support multi-platform, simple interface, easy to use, suitable for online meetings, regular online learning.
  • Quality clear, stable, uninterrupted transmission line.
  • Share Videos and photos via Quality Messages.
  • Make friends or invite friends to use via email. Conduct live video chat.
  • Access meeting analytics, such as top users by meeting minutes.
  • Easily screen-share during a call.
  • Use the recording feature to save and document your sessions.
  • Hold brainstorming sessions with Zoom's on-screen whiteboard feature.
  • Access in-depth support, such as live help, online chat, phone support, FAQs, help articles, and video tutorials.
  • Start using for free, as Zoom's free plan lets you host up to 100 participants in a video call.

Zoom Cons

Zoom is a great and popular choice for web conferencing, with over a million meeting participants every day. However, Zoom isn't a perfect tool. If you're considering using Zoom, there are a few things that you should know about relying on the platform.

  • Free usage is limited to cloud meetings of 40 minutes or less
  • A buffer problem may occur if it is used with an older operating system
  • Users report that sometimes the chat features are not available when in a meeting.
  • Video on Zoom is often blurry and pixelated.

Zoom Meeting's claim to fame is top-notch performance, but that's hardly the only reason to choose this feature-rich and competitively priced video conferencing service. Zoom provides a lot of opportunities to communicate better with your team on a day-to-day basis. Overall, Zoom has among the best performance of any online video conferencing apps.

2. Cisco WebEx

Cisco WebEx is one of the most widely used online meeting and video conferencing apps. It especially made for those who want to communicate with the other computer or mobile users around the world with the help of an internet connection. It is simple and one of the best platforms that offer unlimited voice and video meetings with screen sharing.

The difference between Cisco Webex and current video conferencing apps is the ability to monitor participants' screens. Statistics of things to do, users can pay attention right to the main meeting screen. At the same time, it is the ability to assign jobs, store documents as well as the ability to remind tasks via Outlook. With a simple and easy to understand interface. The software also allows users to share in team workspace and hold online events.

The platform is specially made for those users who want to work together from the leader in teamwork. Cisco WebEx has three different premium plans with their different price and features, such as premium 8, premium 25, and premium 39.

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Image Credit: Cisco WebEx

Cisco WebEx Pros

  • Easy to connect via web app or standalone app, join by VoIP dial-in.
  • Call me feature makes it easy so you don’t have to dial a super long meeting passcode.
  • It's easy to set up meetings and automatically send meeting info to participants.
  • It has good integration with Google Calendar, and presumably other calendar apps.
  • Recently improvements to recording features that allow you to download recordings in a standard format
  • Feature to present with the whiteboard.
  • Private meeting room with your URL.

Cisco WebEx Cons

  • The call me to feature doesn’t work sometimes and we have to make attendees physically dial-in.
  • The screen share feature sometimes stops working while in the middle of a meeting but the audio still works. There’s no way to reconnect and continue to share the screen.
  • Remote control request to support people in meetings.
  • Feature to add notes about the presentation of the meeting.
  • A mobile app doesn't provide that same quality as the web-based version.

3. Microsoft Teams

Teams are Microsoft’s online collaboration tool that forms part of its Office 365 package. However, as with Microsoft Word, there are ways to get it for free. The most obvious of which is to sign up for a trial version. This used to be only available for a month but Microsoft has increased it to six months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Image Credit: Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams can have up to 250 participants in each meeting but limits the screen to displaying a maximum of four screens at once. The stream will switch depending on who is talking. Microsoft has slowly been adding new features as Teams has grown. This includes live captions as well a broadcast function that’s a bit like Facebook Live – allowing anyone to tune in to a demonstration. This could be particularly useful for remote learning.

Microsoft Teams Pros

  • Loads of features like background blur, chat functionality and integrated apps
  • The tools are all in one place, easier to use
  • Highly customizable.
  • Tightly integrated with other Microsoft Office apps.
  • Plentiful integration options, included with Office 365 business accounts.
  • No cost for Office 365 users
  • Add chat tools (like Trello, ...)
  • Some old documents that you shared with a group a few months ago, deleted channels, files are still stored in SharePoint sites, so you won't be lost.

Microsoft Teams Cons

  • There are too many of the same tools
  • Missing notification
  • The number of channels is limited
  • Unnecessary consumption of storage
  • Those features don’t work very well
  • Set up to be used in a Microsoft environment, not elsewhere.
  • The compartmentalized design gives an air of formality and rule-following that may inhibit open dialogue.

Microsoft Teams provides features galore, including tight connectivity with Office 365. It's a great team messaging app if your organization is a Microsoft shop.

4. Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is one of the most trusted and video conferencing apps available for all major platforms including Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. If you have a Google account, you have access to Google Hangouts. For free Gmail and G Suite Basic customers, Google Hangouts allows for up to 10 people to chat in a video call. The service also supports simultaneous voice chat and allows participants to join a conference via email or a shareable link.

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Image Credit: Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts offers similar call controls to other providers—you can add participants, mute them, remove them from the conversation, and share screens. You won’t hear an announcement when a new caller joins. Google Hangouts also makes scheduling easy. It integrates into your G Suite contacts and calendar (for free), so you can schedule a call with a few clicks.

Unlike other free conference calling services in the market, there’s no option for call recording or transcribing Google Hangout calls. This means that users of the service will need to designate a caller to act as note-taker if meeting minutes must be recorded, making it less of an ideal solution for government employees or calls designed to clarify legally binding agreements.

Image Credit: Google

Google Hangouts Pros

  • Simple and clean to use on both mobile and desktop; distinguishes nicely between consumer and business
  • As a free Web-based software provided by Google, it is completely free without paying fees such as upgrading to a paid version to get more features.
  • Basic tools for learning and work exchange such as sharp camera, live chat by video and talk via mic or chat It is easy and simple to use, and includes a recording function for easy review
  • Can be used for classes with large classes of up to 250 people

Google Hangouts Cons

  • Requires a Google account to set up a meeting; the way Google has split the apps is also a bit confusing
  • Sometimes the transmission line and the sound picture quality are also affected more or less disrupting the lesson.
  • The more apps a user adds to his/her Hangout, the slower the connection gets.
  • No option for call recording or transcribing Google Hangout calls

The free video chat app from Google is a great example of a consumer-grade app that has been accepted into the business world. Google shops operating out of Google mail and Google calendaring will enjoy the native integrations for Google Hangouts.

5. Go To Meeting

GoToMeeting has many useful features, including instant meetings or meeting scheduling, meeting transcription services, and in-app meeting messaging between participants. GoToMeeting pricing starts at $14/month for groups of up to 10 meeting participants and costs $29/month for larger groups of 150 participants.

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Image Credit: Go To Meeting

As the highest-rated video conference app on the list, GoToMeeting has to be considered one of your top choices right off the bat and for good reason. With plenty of in-meeting features for finicky hosts, an intuitive platform for newbies, and plenty of customer support for anyone that can't figure it out, GoToMeeting is a no-brainer if you're looking for a comprehensive platform. Key features include:

With 18 million worldwide users per month and 80 million meetings per year, it's clear that GoToMeeting is a popular video conference app that does more than getting the job done. It allows users to utilize video conferencing in whatever way they choose and functions as smooth as it needs to. Plus, their customer support team has more online compliments than we can count, which is always a good sign.

GoToMeeting Pros

  • High-quality video and audio
  • 10-250 participant limit (depending on the plan)
  • Conference recording
  • Works with iOS and Android devices
  • Advanced features, like polling and annotating
  • Instantly join or host meetings from a remote location via phone, PC or Mac
  • Commuter mode lets you attend meetings while you are in a go with distraction-free experience
  • Cloud recording features now available for the smartphone app too

GoToMeeting Cons

  • Lacks advanced meeting options such as polling.
  • Webinar features require getting GoToWebinar.

GoToMeeting is one of the easiest conferencing services to use, and its video conferencing feature keeps the app relevant in today's competitive market.

6. Free Conference Call

Free Conference Call is not tricking you with the word “free” in its title. It is 100 percent free with the option of monthly donations of whatever you think is appropriate.

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Image Credit: Free Conference Call

This virtual meeting software offers you audio and video conferencing, web meetings, screen sharing, and call recording at no cost to you. The platform allows you to have up to 1000 users on a call, which is a fantastic capacity. There’s a mobile app for both Android and iOS, so you can host and manage meetings and configure your account. Even better, the mobile app works as either a traditional conference calling service or as a video calling service complete with slide-share functionality.

Meetings are easy to schedule, and you get a combination of great features to make your conference happen. You get recordings of the audio and visual from your meeting, robust security features, call management features, calendar integrations, and international dial-in numbers from over sixty countries.

Free Conference Call Pros

  • It lets people connect from all over the world - for free!
  • Ease of setup - There is an installer and software does need to be installed on the computer but it's incredibly easy and simple to get started.
  • Inviting meeting participants is incredibly easy from within the application. Either a link can be copied into a regular email or a list of email addresses can be input and you can send a single invitation to everyone as once.
  • The program allows you to see which phone numbers were on the call and for how long. This can be useful for reference.

Free Conference Call Cons

  • Browser-based option. It would be great if there were no need to install the software. A browser or cloud-based option with no local component needed would be great.
  • 1 GB limit on saving recorded meetings on the free version is a little low.

The Bottom Lines

Video conferencing is a powerful tool for businesses, students, and groups who want to stay connected over long distances. It’s also a great way of staying in touch with colleagues and classmates when you simply can’t be there in person.

The above-mentioned video conferencing apps are the best available options to stay connected with your colleagues and partners on a professional basis. The apps work well and provide a lot of features in the free version. You should try these online video conferencing apps yourself and pick the one suitable for you. Users can also go for the premium version of the apps as per their requirements.

This article is also credited to Alex Konrad

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