Now the usage of video calls for business and personal purposes is on an all-time high as more people have realized that they can be just as productive if they conduct their businesses virtually.
Zoom is arguably the most popular platform for these video meetings because of its many great features, but it might not be the best choice for your business operations. For example, unless you pay for Zoom premium, you cannot use the platform for a meeting that stretches beyond 40 minutes.
Also, Zoom has a lot of issues with security and privacy, which is obviously revealed by the prevalent instances of uninvited guests joining private zoom calls.
Fortunately, there are several Zoom alternatives in the market that can meet your needs and in this article, we will be looking at the 10 best free ones.
Google Meet is a video-conferencing application that targets business users. It is actually part of the Google workspace, but it is capable of working fully as a standalone application.
One fantastic thing about Google meet is that it does not require you to install an application to enjoy the full experience, unlike Zoom. You can simply access the platform by navigating to the Google Meet page and start a meeting from there.
This page allows you to copy the invitation link and send it to your friends or anybody else that you want to join your meeting, and then you can conduct the meeting right from your browser.
While Google Meet will work on almost any browser, you will definitely get the best experience if you use Google Chrome as your web browser since the platform has been tailored to fit the browser.
Once you have set up your workspace, you will get a couple of options to start your meeting. You can invite participants via Google Calendar. To do this you will simply need to add Google Meet to the invite and the meeting will be automatically set up at the date and time that you have selected.
You can also set up a meeting by navigating to the Google Meet page and opting to start a meeting instantly. This method will require that you create an invite list and send them their invitations via email. You can also opt to schedule a meeting for later with this method.
The thing about using this platform is that you can seamlessly integrate Google apps, but don’t expect too much from Microsoft apps or other third-party apps.
Like Zoom, Google Meet is free for up to 100 callers, but you can stay on a call for up to an hour with Google Meet. While this platform is largely built for computers, you can download a mobile version on either Playstore or Apple store.
Some of its best features include its screen sharing, live caption, and adjustable layout. Google Meet has a paid version that allows more users, but small companies can make do with the free version.
If you have used Cisco Webex before, but have not checked it out in the last year, then you may have an inaccurate option about how it works now. A lot of work has been done to revamp the platform, particularly its ease of use.
Now, it has introduced a lot of powerful features including the new Webex assistant and other powerful features such as its AI capabilities that are responsible for meeting transcription and so on.
Webex has a very clean and organized interface. Signing up is easy. You will be required to input your organization’s information plus some other routine details.
Once you have registered, you can set up a meeting immediately or schedule one for another time.
The platform reveals meeting requirements such as attendee lists, meeting passwords, and more, and if you want to set up a larger meeting than the free plan can accommodate then you will have to upgrade to a paid account and download the Cisco Webex productivity tools.
Webex has one of the cleanest meeting interfaces that you will find. You have the standard buttons to mute and unmute your microphone, as well as hide or reveal your camera. You can use multiple screens so as to maintain some levels of privacy if you want to play a multimedia file and not share it with the other participants.
One of the best features on this platform is the Apple iPad screen. This lets you create illustrations and drawings to aid teaching during brainstorming sessions.
Also, you can easily record your videos on Webex by clicking on a single button. Once you hit the button, the platform will send you an email letting you know that your recording will be available in under 24 hours.
You can also have breakout sessions on Webex, and this is one feature that you will not find on Zoom. This feature lets you start a meeting as a full class and subsequently break up into smaller teams to discuss in detail as smaller teams and then reconvene again as a full class.
Like Zoom, Webex is also available to download on mobile app stores and you can integrate with third-party apps like Google Drive and Microsoft 365.
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Microsoft Teams reminds us that a lot of a self-service insider space is organized into aisles and bins, where everything and everyone you are looking for is easy to find. It is a powerful Zoom alternative that has grown very popular in the last year, especially for remote work collaboration.
If you can accept the structure and settings of Teams, then you will love everything else about the app from its numerous integration options to its ability to work well will all other Microsoft products. However, this very benefit that makes it attractive to Microsoft customers is a deal-breaker for non-Microsoft users.
Teams video conferencing abilities together with a host of other features make it a top choice for organizations looking to collaborate over Microsoft products.
This year, Teams announced the rollout of a new feature called Microsoft Viva, which is an employee experience platform that interacts with each individual as opposed to having static elements for everyone. This means that each person will only see things that relate to their job role.
For example, a new hire may find a bunch of training modules on their dashboard, whereas a manager might be presented with breakdowns of their team’s performances over a period of time.
On Teams, you can set your personal status to let others know if you are available, on a call, or away from your workstation. This means that you can appear to be unavailable even if you are online so you can quickly turn on your computer to get important information from your Teams without alerting anyone that you are online.
While it is easier to use Microsoft Teams on a Windows10 laptop or desktop, it can be downloaded like Zoom as an Android or Google application and works fine even when you are on the go.
Its video conferencing function also comes with a screen sharing ability and a chat function that lets you share information during the course of deliberation.
It is important to note that Skype for Business will soon be integrated into Teams and will cease to exist afterward.
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Microsoft Skype is a popular Zoom alternative that needs no introduction. It is often referred to as the department store of communication because it provides group video calling, text messaging, and calls to standard phones.
In fact, just recently, Microsoft rolled out their new chatbots features in Skype which is powered by artificial intelligence.
You can use Skype whether on your Android or iOS phones and laptops, and it is even available on accessories such as Android wears and Apple watches.
Getting started on the app is easy. Simply navigate to the homepage to download Skype. Then run the installation and set up the click-to-call function in your browser to enable call out from any web page.
Once you have installed Skype, create a new account and sign in to Skype. You can add a profile picture and start using the application immediately. Skype allows you to search your existing contact list to find people who are already on the platform and you can also search for someone by entering their name or phone number.
The platform’s interface has changed over the years. Currently, it is clean and simple with a picture on the top left side and four buttons below to allow you to perform different tasks.
As on Teams, you can set your status on Skype to allow other users to know if you are available, away, or offline.
Skype’s video calling is what it is mostly known for. In fact, even users of other video calling apps are often caught using the phrase “I will Skype you later”. This is a testament to the top-notch voice and video service that the company has maintained over the years.
Just like Zoom, you can conduct video sessions with multiple participants on Skype, albeit the free version does not allow you to add more than 10 participants. The unique thing about Skype is that you can add participants that consist of Skype app users and calls from the telephone system as part of the group call, although the telephone callers will join as call only.
Skype provides you with end-to-end encryption, so you can be sure that your communication with another user is private between the two of you and the service also provides live subtitles to foster clearer communication.
Also Read: Best TeamSpeak Alternatives
Google Hangouts is Google’s own idea of a business messaging app. It is quite different from the old Hangouts chat that merely existed as a chat app. This Hangouts application is a full-blown message space that is in the same line as other collaboration applications such as Microsoft Teams and Slack. However, it is only available via a business G Suite account.
Just like Zoom, you can use Google Hangouts for one on one calls and group video calls for up to 10 users at once and is a good option to have if you are already paying for the G Suite account.
Its interface is quite different from the other collaboration apps that you will come across. It contains all posts and replies so that they will stay grouped together.
The best part of the app is how it integrates well with other G Suite apps, and while that may be the best thing about Google Hangouts, it isn’t all that impressive when compared to some of its alternatives.
For example, you can share a link to a Google document to your Hangouts chat, and Google will automatically assume that you want that document to be accessible by everyone in the room. However, you can change this and delete the link altogether if you no longer want it.
Also, you can access your Hangouts rooms and direct messages right from your Gmail. This feature is especially useful to Hangouts users that often work out of their emails. You can keep the Hangouts app open as a pop out and it will look exactly like the old Hangouts that used to be a chat application.
Google Hangouts is a decent tool that offers you the basic features that other Zoom alternatives offer but lacks certain distinct features such as auto caption, screen recording, and other integrations.
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FaceTime is a Zoom alternative that lets you make audio and video calls from your Apple devices. However, there are now Chrome extensions that make it possible for you to use the FaceTime app on your Windows computer.
At first glance, you may be tempted to classify FaceTime with the other video chat apps in the market, but that will not be accurate. While a lot of other video chat apps do something different, FaceTime offers by far the most solid video call solution for mobiles.
It is built directly into your phone’s contact, so when you want to call someone you are often given the option to make a standard call or reach the person via FaceTime. If you use an iPad 2 or Touch, you will see FaceTime as a standalone application since there is a phone interface on either of them.
FaceTime’s interface is as intuitive and simple as Zoom’s. Maybe even more so. Using it on a regular iPhone is just as simple as making a normal phone call. You just have to select the contact and dial.
It is equally simple to use on an iPad as well. You can add the contact and make your video call with only a few taps from the FaceTime app and even first-time users will figure it out without any stress.
You can add up to 32 users to a group video call on FaceTime. However, if you want to conserve your bandwidth, then it’s advisable that you stick to audio-only calls for that amount of users. As you will find on Zoom, you can easily turn off your video or mute yourself by touching a button.
Also Read: TeamSpeak Vs Discord
Zoho Meeting is a basic video conferencing app that is used by businesses that have already invested in Zoho’s extensive software suite. The platform has not always looked as good as its current state. They have surely invested a lot into it since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic.
It is simple to get started on the platform. You just have to sign up for the free account with your email address and some other basic information.
Once you are signed in, you will find that the layout is clean and free of many distractions. You will easily find the ‘Meet now’ button that launches an audio or video call when you click on it.
Zoho Meeting has a couple of features that you are unlikely to find in other more popular video meeting applications. Its network administrator-oriented features help your company IT team keep tabs on the overall network performance as it relates to video conferencing calls.
While Zoho Meeting integrates well with other applications on the Zoho portfolio, the same cannot be said about integrating with other more popular apps like Microsoft. For businesses that are fully invested in Zoho platforms, this may not be an issue, but for companies that rely heavily on Microsoft applications, this could make life very difficult.
That being said, Zoho has worked on a couple of features on its meeting app to enable it to be on par with the best in the industry. For example, you can now mute attendees and invite new ones to your meeting.
It also allows you to share parts of your screen or the full screen with other participants.
They have also made it possible to lock meetings to forestall any case of meeting crashing that frequently happens in Zoom. This provides an added layer of security in addition to meeting passwords and serves as a deterrent to unwanted attendees.
Sadly, Zoho Meeting does not have a Video recording button like some of the other Zoom alternatives on this list. However, it does allow you to record audio for as long as you like.
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RingCentral Meetings is a Zoom alternative that lets you meet with friends or family and collaborate with colleagues virtually directly from your web browser without downloading any application.
Signing up for RingCentral is easy. You just need to enter an email address, a password, choose a local phone number for dial-in, and you are good to go.
While you can use RingCentral from your web browser without so many issues, if you want to enjoy the full experience then you will need to download and install the application on your mobile device or laptop. Downloading the application on your local machine is relatively easy and fast and it will enable you to share your screen and give advanced participants control when you need to.
Once you have a couple of participants on your meeting, you can set your video conference to show in either of two ways: the speaker mode, which shows the current speaker on the largest video frame, or the gallery view which lets you see all of the participants at the same time.
RingCentral has a lot of features that you will not find on Zoom. For example, it comes with a whiteboard that enables a presenter to explain his ideas using drawings and illustrations.
Also, more than one user can share their screens at the same time, which can come in handy in training sessions where the tutor would like to assist multiple students at the same time.
RingCentral also allows you to create breakout rooms, record your sessions as many times as you want, and share them over the cloud.
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Jitsi Meet is an open-source Zoom alternative that offers HD video quality and end-to-end encryption.
It is completely free and lets you add up to 50 participants in a single meeting. You can invite these participants by sharing the meeting link with them by calling them on the phone. One of the best things about Jitsi Meet is that invitees can join your meeting without signing up on the platform themselves.
Participants can share their screen and give access to others to remotely control their desktop.
The platform also allows you to record your sessions, stream live on YouTube, and you can transcribe them too.
Jitsi Meet integrates will with Apple, Google, and Microsoft calendars and has powerful analytics to help you track the performance of your meetings.
Facebook is known to battle for digital territory and the video conferencing space is not left out.
They are improving their video chat options with Messenger rooms to allow Facebook users to create public and private rooms that can accommodate up to 50 people at once for as long as they want.
This is in comparison to Zoom’s free plan that can accommodate up to 100 participants, but for only 40 minutes.
What is even more interesting is that Facebook is allowing guests to join these rooms via invitation without being required to create a Facebook account before they join.
Attendees can take advantage of Facebook’s Snapchat-like filters to touch up their appearance.
My major issue with this platform is that users’ interactions are not end-to-end encrypted, even though Facebook claims that they will not listen in on any conversation.
These are my 10 best free Zoom alternatives in 2021. Don’t be misled by hype or any sparkly features. Take your time to test them out and see which one is most suited for your needs.