The Top 4 Free Apps for Video Meetings and Presentations
Remote work has now become the new normal and alongside it, a renewed focus on corporate video communication. All that’s needed is a webcam and a microphone – which are often built into laptops – or even just a smartphone or tablet.
There are a huge amount of apps available out there that allow for video calls, but a lot of them were created with personal one-to-one chats in mind i.e. Skype and Facebook Messenger, and therefore not the best solution to have multi-user conferences, make presentations and/or even record the meeting details for further use.
We’re using a combination of Zoom, Skype and Hangouts Meet to communicate with our clients and Google Hangouts amongst the team, so we’re in the ideal position to give you an overview of what you can expect, good and bad, with most of these apps. With that in mind, we’ve chosen four of the most used free apps, listing both the positive and negative features for each, and even a few pro tips on Zoom, for you to really make the best use of it. Ultimately, you might end up having to use several of these depending on what the other party is accustomed to using (like us!), so it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
- Very easy to use – users can login by clicking on a public link or going to zoom and adding the 9-digit meeting code to join.
- It has a gallery view, which allows you to see all the participants at once.
- You can switch back to the default "Speaker view" by clicking that same button.
- Each meeting session has a limit of 40min within the free account; you would need to stop the meeting and restart with another link at that point.
- Zoom has had some glaring problems with privacy and security; best to be careful sharing sensitive information until this is resolved.
1. Change your background
If your workspace is less than ideal, and you want to spruce things up behind you, you are able to add a virtual background in Zoom. This works best if the background behind you is plain, for example a blank wall. Go to Settings and click on Virtual Background; you can use that feature to upload an image to replace your background. Please note that this only works on the desktop or mobile app and requires you to meet certain system specifications.
2. Beautify yourself
If make up isn’t your thing these days or if again you just want to look a bit more presentable for a meeting first thing in the morning, Zoom's Touch Up My Appearance filter smooths fine lines and reduces the appearance of any under-eye bags. To use this feature, go back into the Settings menu, select Video, and make sure "Touch up my appearance" is toggled.
3. Disable your mic and camera by default
If you're scrambling to make yourself look professional, even if it's only from the waist up, you can set your app to only turn on your mic and camera when you want it to. You do this by going into the app's Settings menu and heading into the Audio section for your mic and selecting the "Mute microphone when joining a meeting" option. If you go into the Video portion of your Settings menu, you can similarly select the "Turn off my video when joining a meeting" option.
- Meeting length of 4 hours per session and a maximum video meeting size of 50 users on a free account.
- It is widely known, so if your contacts are using Skype then it’s a reasonable choice due to the additional chat features, if only a bit dated.
- The Skype Business plan is pretty cheap and you get 250 video meeting slots along with extra security, but again, the torture of setting everyone up with an account and then just trying to complete tasks, which should be simple, means it just isn’t worth the hassle.
- Not the easiest app to use, it requires downloading the app onto your computer or phone to join a call, and everyone you invite needs to set up an account. There is actually a way of inviting people to join without creating an account, but that’s so complicated to explain that it’s not worth considering.
- To try and set up a meeting on your phone you need to manually add all contacts into a group, so it would be better to use the desktop app for that.
- It hasn’t been updated since August 2019, as it would seem Microsoft is focusing its efforts on Microsoft Teams.
- The app allows 250 people in a meeting or up to 10,000 viewers through its presentation feature.
- Users can easily share files and chat during meetings as well as screen-share.
- It is free and integrates with Skype.
- It contains some nice features such as background blur, which is obviously a nice thing to have when you have a messy backdrop or someone walking behind you.
- The app is built primarily for businesses, or “teams”. People who want individual access can do so via Skype accounts, but it appears to require a download of Skype to join meetings.
- Not the easiest to work with, the interface is not clear and the menu seems to be more complicated than it needs to be.
- You can’t start an impromptu meeting; you need to invite existing contacts into a team and then start a meeting.
- Still suffering from quite a lot of bugs and crashing during meetings, which is obviously a problem.
- For those of us who use Gmail, Google Hangouts is a free seamless option for video chats. Up to 150 people can participate in a chat, but only 25 people can participate in a video call at once.
- Hangouts Meet requires a G-Suite subscription to use. It allows you to connect with up to 250 people at a time with the advanced subscription and a real perk of that is, it connects seamlessly with G-Suite, so any calendar invites will be sent straight to your inbox with a link to join the meeting.
- Google has created advanced features like increased meeting sizes and meeting recordings free until the end of June, to help those during the Covid-19 crisis. The apps are also far easier to use on mobile and tablet than Zoom, thanks to a clean interface.
- While Zoom has its virtual backgrounds, Hangouts has emojis, stickers and GIFs. For team communications, this could be a plus – or not!
- There are two versions of Google Hangouts, which can be slightly confusing when you’re looking through an app store and trying to figure out which one is the one you need – Hangouts Meet is the enterprise version for businesses, while Hangouts Chat is the consumer version of Hangouts.
- A hangout can be joined via Gmail, the Hangouts app or a Chrome extension but it requires having a Gmail account.
Again, like Zoom, it isn’t the best for one-to-one calls because it requires you to send over an invitation or a link and you can’t just call up a friend impromptu. Another thing is that with the Hangouts Chat app, the organiser needs a Google account.
- Whether you need some direction, or simply just some additional resource to move fast and protect your business to recover lost sales and regain momentum, we can help.
To help facilitate this, Austin Marketing is set up for video conferencing with Google Hangouts, Zoom and Skype, all free for small to medium sized businesses. If you haven’t already experienced video conferencing from your laptop, desktop or mobile, we can talk you through the process - why not book your appointment now?