Google Meet, GoToMeeting, and other Zoom alternatives in video conferencing apps
The rise of video conferencing has been one of the defining elements of the coronavirus pandemic. With millions of people forced to work remotely, virtual meeting apps have gained significantly.
With remote working becoming the ‘new normal’ due to the coronavirus outbreak, video conferencing and virtual collaboration applications have witnessed exponential growth in the last few months.
Zoom’s rise is well documented by now. The Silicon Valley startup has become the default virtual meeting platform, earning the label of ‘King of the Quarantine Economy’ from AdWeek. Its users have grown 30x since the COVID-19 outbreak.
However, rising security concerns around Zoom and the overall upsurge in the adoption of remote conferencing tools has helped other platforms gain significantly. We covered a bunch of e-meeting tools here, and also reviewed a leading app here.
But there are newer applications and tools being rolled out each day. There is consolidation happening as well. Also, several pre-existing cloud conferencing platforms are ramping up their offerings to make the most of the current demand.
YourStory drew up a list of some useful virtual meeting apps that go beyond Zoom.
Until recently, Google’s premium video conferencing product Meet was available to G-Suite users only. It meant that only paying customers could start meetings, but anyone could join one.
Now with the demand for virtual collaboration tools hitting north due to the coronavirus lockdowns, Google Meet is free for all users.
The internet giant has also “re-engineered” Meet to make it more secure, easy to access, and reliable. So, anyone can log in to the app with their Gmail account or even use Meet directly inside Gmail.
Meet is powered by ‘Google AI’ now, and comes with useful features like real-time captions and low-light mode. It offers features like scheduling, screen sharing, live chat, multiple layouts based on your preference, including an expanded tiled view — popularised by Zoom.
Google claims that since Meet became free in March, its users have increased 30x and three billion minutes of video meetings are being conducted daily.
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GoToMeeting has been one of the most-searched meeting tools since the lockdown. Searches in India grew 173 percent in April, reveals online search tracker SEMRush.
The app has been built by Boston-based SaaS startup LogMeIn. It launched in 2016, and has racked up more than five million downloads on Google Play Store.
Users can join and host meetings for free with a single click. GoToMeeting supports 250 participants in a single conference. It offers a Commuter Mode which can save up to 90 percent data when you join a meeting while in transit.
GoToMeeting also offers features like calendar sync across devices, full band VoIP audio or phone call, screen sharing, hand-off presentation controls for other attendees to view, meeting alerts, and live chats with individual attendees or all participants.
Airmeet is a homegrown virtual meeting and online event platform. The Bengaluru-based startup recently raised $3 million in funding to push its offerings in the aftermath of the pandemic that forced widespread event cancellations.
With Airmeet, those events can now go online, and at a large scale. The platform can host up to one million live attendees and let them seamlessly interact with each other, thereby replicating the networking atmosphere of an offline venue.
Community managers can publish their event details online, manage registrations, and go live from the event through a single interface, without any additional downloads. Users can organise or join meetings on Airmeet through a browser link.
Jitsi Meet is a free, open source, and fully encrypted video conferencing solution. You can host and join meetings even without an account. It offers unlimited meeting minutes, participants, and conferences. Jitsi Meet can also be added to Slack channels.
One of its key features is lock-protected rooms that allows hosts to control access to their conferences with a password. Jitsi Meet also offers a personalised feature called ‘Invite by pretty URLs’. It enables users to create customised meeting links as opposed to random sequences of numbers and letters for meeting rooms.
It has high quality audio and video along with live chat and screen sharing features. You can install the Jitsi Chrome extension to log in to meetings from a browser too.
Jitsi Meet also provides Google Calendar and Office 365 integrations too, which lets you sync meeting invites, schedules, and reminders across devices.
MeetFox is a web-based video solution with integrated scheduling and payment features. It is tailored for 1:1 online meetings between businesses and clients.
It is available for free for 60 days if you enter a code (displayed on the website), after which MeetFox is chargeable. Users can join meetings through a conference link, share screen, and record video sessions.
Clients who want to meet with business owners can auto-fill their calendars directly. MeetFox also enables service providers to generate instant invoices and receive quick payments by reducing paperwork.
Businesses can also convert website visitors into new clients by adding a MeetFox ‘booking’ button or a pop-up to their website, social media or email signature.
Reliance’s JioMeet is an HD video conferencing tool for mobiles and tablets. The app launched in 2018, but an upgraded version was rolled out in March 2020 to capitalise on the growing demand for e-meeting apps.
JioMeet supports five users on the free plan, and up to 100 users on the business plan. It allows email and OTP-based logins for meeting hosts, while guests can join through a simple conferencing link either on the app or through a Chrome browser.
Users can answer calls in audio or video mode or toggle between modes. The call host has the option to manage participant audio and video feeds using host controls.
They can also selectively disconnect participants or end the entire meeting. JioMeet also provides conference history, and all the meetings are PIN protected.
Chinese internet giant Tencent is the latest to join the virtual meeting bandwagon. It recently launched VooV Meeting, a cloud-based remote conferencing tool for businesses. Conferencing is free for up to 300 members; charges apply post that.
Attendees can host or join meetings with ease anytime, anywhere. The tool is available across iOS, Android, Windows, and MacOS.
VooV comes with nifty features like intelligent video noise reduction, support for beauty filters and background blurring, AI-led speech enhancement, and keyboard click sound minimisers. It also offers a seamless conferencing experience with no smearing or lagging.
Like most remote collaboration tools, VooV Meeting enables real-time screen sharing, instant text messaging, live discussions, HD session recordings, and more.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)
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