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Work From Home, Learning From Home, Webinars, Video Calls - What Are Your Options In The New Normal

Amongst the popularity of Zoom as a platform for video conference calls, webinars and remote learning, we look at the alternatives

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Since the lockdown started in march, we all went into work-from-home and found ourselves getting into more video calls than ever before. Face to face meetings in the office have now been replaced by daily video calls. Since, in many of those calls, there are more than five to eight people involved, The American video conferencing app Zoom has become the leading solution at our end. 

Zoom provides a remote conferencing service that combines video conferencing, online meetings, chat, and mobile collaboration but apart from these things the ability to seamlessly record the video call with the speaker in frame or with everyone being in the frame was something that brought about a change in our video interview workflow. We obviously were not the only ones who just got introduced to the “new normal”, Zoom suddenly saw a jump in the userbase from 10mil active users in January 2020 to 300mil active users in march of 2020 when the lockdown hit the globe. 

There are multiple reasons why Zoom caught everyone’s fancy in the last couple of months, first the ease of use, just one link to share and it works. Secondly it allows up to 100 participants in a video call, This high user limit made Zoom the choice for learning-from-home or remote learning situations that schools and college students were facing. Ability to host large number of participants also brought in the webinar crowd, This is the new normal right! Whatsapp, for example, used to let you add only four people in a video call(now Whatsapp allows eight participants), and Skype allows up to 50 participants. So, Zoom became an easy choice for large business meetings and online studies. 

But Zoom is not the only application that offers these features, its of the easiest to use and feature loaded but there are multiple alternatives available. In this article we will be looking at some of the alternatives available to Zoom. 

Skype – Skype is the Original Gangster of the Video Call Culture. Owned by Microsoft, Skype offers up to 50 participants with no time limited on meetings for free, which makes it ideal for smaller gatherings. Skype also supports call recording feature that any member can use and allows users to save and share the recording for up to a month. Users must have the Skype app downloaded, however. Also for options for recording the video is very limited. 

Cisco Webex – Webex is another popular video conferencing platform. The free version has a significant amount to offer, with up to 100 participants for an unlimited number of time. It also features HD video, screen-sharing and recording options. Webex offers high scalability options and it also connects with Cisco Video Conferencing hardware incase your company already has it. The application is a little complex and there is a learning curve associated with it. This works great as an enterprise solution with ver  y high scalability options. 

Google Meet – The Classic Google Hangouts was retired last year and Google Meet was its replacement, Starting from 4 May, Google enabled access to Meet to all Google account holders to help them stay in touch. Google has added some features to Meet, including a tiled view for up to 16 people on one screen, the ability to present a single Chrome Tab rather than the whole desktop, an AI-powered low light mode to make your video look better in bad lighting and noise cancellation to get rid of background noise. We could not find any recording options in the free version, this itself could be a deal breaker for many. Google is pitching Meet as a secure alternative to the competition.

SayNamaste – SayNamaste is new and a made-in-india product, yes developed by Mumbai based software company Inscripts, SayNamaste offers 50 participant video conferencing, screen sharing, web based access along with mobile phone apps as well as file sharing during meetings. SayNamaste is working on providing recording feature as well. InScripts has also worked on the security bit of the video conferencing in SayNamaste using industry standard encryption.   

Microsoft Teams – Almost everyone uses Office 365 and Microsoft Teams is the built-in video conferencing in Office 365. However, anyone can sign up for the free version of Teams using a personal email address. The basic version allows support for up to 300 members, guest access, one-on-one and group video/audio calls, screen sharing, and shared files up to 10GB per team. The business plans, however, offer more. Administors then have access to security, management, and compliance tools. Teams can share files up to 1TB per user and collaborate using desktop Office programs and SharePoint Online. Those versions also support online webinars and training sessions. Although easier to use compared to Cisco Webex, the recording feature on Microsoft teams was basic at most. 

Jio Meet - Reliance Jio is set to enter the video conferencing space after announcing the formal launch of Jio Meet, a conferencing-cum-collaborative app. It is launching the service under its Jio Platforms subsidiary. The Service is yet to be launched but the company is promising availability on all platforms and also integration of health and education services into the app.

BlueJeans - Bluejeans is a cloud based video conferencing platform offering high-quality streaming for smaller teams. It not only connects across multiple devices, it can use multiple platforms as well. While BlueJeans offers a free trial, there are three levels the Standard with 50 Participants, Pro with 75 participants, and Enterprise with upto 100 participants. Bluejeans also offers Dolby Audio and HD Video support, while recording options are available for Audio and Video with some customisation options. 

Floor video calling platform - 10Times, a business events discovery platform has introduced a video calling platform known as Floor. The new video calling platform will conduct one-on-one, one-to-many and many-to-many interactions and tries to cover various events online for users to join, especially considering the New Normal. The platform's main area is covering events since the company has expertise in it. Floor comes with various features such as audience polls, Q&A, social forum, user matching for networking, content sharing, etc. essential to keep users engaged and host a valuable live-event. The platform serves as both a video calling platform and online events management platform.


Name 

Max users

Recording

Pricing

Time limit

Country of origin







Zoom

100-500

Yes 

$14.99 onwards

24hrs

US

Skype

50

Yes

Free

24hrs

US







Cisco Webex

100-1000

Yes

$13.5 onwards

24hrs

US







Google Meet

100

No

Free till Sept 2020

24hrs

US







SayNamaste

50

No

Free

No limit

India







Microsoft Teams

250

Yes

Free / Office 365 Subscription

24hrs

US







Jio Meet 

-

-

-

-

India







BlueJeans

100

Yes

$9.99 

24hrs

US







Floor (events)

Unlimited

Yes

Basic Free

24hrs

India