Working from home has never been easier than before, especially right now in 2021. With so many freelancers and even programmers, developers, animators, etc are working from home, there is a constant need to be connected remotely with your clients, or your employer. Your supervisor has probably set up their own way to connect with the employees and workers. However, there could always be better options out there.
Also, if you happen to be one of these supervisors, you might be looking for something that’s professional yet free, and still gets the job done. For the lot of us who are working from home due to the recent pandemic, video conferencing apps have been more important than ever.
The best way to do video conferencing is doing so through a dedicated app for it. Sure your day to day messaging apps have these features, but they don’t provide professionalism. A lot of various websites/apps can be used to do video conferences, below are some of the free video conferencing apps out there in 2021.
I’m quite confident in saying that most major enterprises and professional folk out there have used zoom beforehand, or are at least familiar with it in some shape or form. While I’ll be the first to admit that you’re better off paying for Zoom rather than going for the free version, you’ll want to regardless once you get a taste of what it is capable of.
First off, the interface is clean and tidy, and more importantly, it is quite easy to navigate. Adding people in a conference call is incredibly easy, and the administrator has total control and regulation. The conference rooms in this app are referred to as “ZoomRooms”. Gone are the days of piling people together in a dedicated room. You can start a meeting instantly, and connect with others on mobile and desktop.
There’s also, of course, the usual file sharing, desktop sharing, whiteboard support for teaching, a phone system, and an instant messaging feature, obviously. You can also record meetings in MP4 or M4A formats, for free. The 256-bit encryption is a nice touch.
The only drawback is that conference calls are limited to 40 minutes, but hey you could always start just another one quickly. If you do intend to go the paid route, the conference time is unlimited and you can add up to a thousand people in the meeting.
2. Google Hangouts/Hangouts Meet
This is the best option for enterprises or smaller businesses that use Gsuite business applications. These involve Google docs, Sheets, Calendar, Gmail, and of course, Google Hangout. However, there is a bit of confusion involving Google Hangouts, as there are two versions to it. I’ll be talking about both of them since they are both solid.
The regular Google Hangouts is an app you can download on your smartphone or desktop app for free. This will be soon incorporated into their “Hangouts Chat” app which is a separate piece of software. Still with me? Hangouts is pretty simple and you can use the chat feature with over 150 people, but the video calls are capped at 10 people.
Hangouts Meet comes bundled in with Gsuite, so technically it isn’t free. However, most companies probably use Gsuite anyway for Google Docs and other apps, and Hangout Meet is included in that. Why is that important? Because then you don’t have to go and purchase a separate program altogether.
Hangouts Meet is also a web app, which makes things much easier. You can join calls on the go, and calls are never interrupted thanks to the dial-in number. Using Hangout meet makes your life much easier as you can quickly access files and documents from other Google applications.
Whichever you go with, both are powerful and reliable, and the decision ultimately comes down to how big your business is and how fluid you want your experience to be.
This roundup probably wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t include Skype now, would it? Skype is a household name, and don’t ask me, ask the 1.5 million users that are currently registered. It was one of the first and most popular video conferencing apps ever. Launched way back in 2003, it actually didn’t start incorporating video chat until 2005. It was then bought out by Microsoft in 2011.
I’m giving you the history lesson because there’s not much I can tell you about which you already wouldn’t know. Skype is available on every platform you can think of, even on the Xbox One for some reason. You can even use it directly in the web browser, and people can invite you to join by using your email.
It has screen sharing, subtitling on conversations, and you have the option to even blur out the people you aren’t talking to at the moment. It does have a 50 participant limit, but if you have more people who want to join in, you can upgrade to Skype for Business. All in all, Skype is tried and true, and it’s the most reliable video conferencing app out there.
4. Cisco Webex
Cisco claims that their video conferencing app Webex, just works. This could not be any truer as the Webex app is simple, easy to navigate, and gets the job done without any distractions. A name like Cisco means a lot in the tech and IT industry, and most people would assume they know what they are doing, and that is certainly the case with Webex.
It’s one of the more powerful video conferencing tools out there. You can also tell it’s aimed at enterprises and organizations without a hint of doubt. The security is backed by TLS 1.2 and AES 256-bit encryption, all of that done by Cisco excellent network experts. That’s quite an impressive step taken towards security, which tells you that this app has professionals in mind.
When you sign up with Cisco, it makes a custom URL for you to use anywhere. This URL will be used in all your meetings and video conferences. You can use the website, mobile apps, or the desktop app (which is the best experience). You get 1GB of cloud storage and the option to add up to 100 participants for free.
If I were to only include business-related video conferencing apps in this article, the list would go on and on forever. So, in order to mix things up a bit, I thought including Discord would be a nice change of pace. Anyone who plays online multiplayer games is already quite familiar with Discord, so I won’t go into too much detail.
A lot of the time, the voice chat in a lot of video games can be quite hit or miss. Either the quality isn’t there or the system is downright broken. Discord aims to fix those issues, it runs in the background and you can chat with your friends on there without issue. You can even turn on screen sharing your friends can see what’s happening.
Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t take up too many resources either (unless we consider it starts automatically on startup). It’s an ever-popular growing platform, with a lot of communities based on many different games. It’s not just about voice chat, it’s about connecting with other people who shared interests as you. With a lot of fine-tuning and controls, Discord is the definite voice chat and video conferencing app for gamers.