Apparently, the current popularity of video conferencing is no longer caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, users rushed to install VidCon applications considering only their main features. For example, in March 2020 Zoom increased its user base by 225 percent compared to April, as reported by the provider of cloud security solutions Wandera.
Customers often had no time for detailed choice of service. However, now that it’s clear that we’re going to use video conferencing for work interaction, studies, gaming, etc. on a permanent basis, many users are looking for alternatives to Zoom, Google Meet, MS Teams and the like.
Users have identified the most attractive product features that they would like to find in VidCon applications – they are conferences with no time limit and next-generation security standards. Both these requirements are the weak points of the leading services. One of the main Zoom issues is that its free platform allows meetings for 40 minutes only. Another shortcoming of Zoom is the so-called “Zoombombing” – unwanted, disruptive intrusion, generally by Internet trolls, into a video-conference call. Below we will look at some interesting video conferencing alternatives to Zoom and other popular VidCon apps.
- Jitsi Meet
Jitsi Meet is not really a well-known service. It has a completely free platform that provides basic video conferencing options, including chats for groups and individual users, presentation streaming, screen sharing, etc. One doesn’t need an account to use this service, but they can create one if they want.
The service has mobile applications for iOS and Android compatible with WebRTC point-to-point transfer technology and can be integrated with Microsoft 365 SaaS service.
At first glance, Jitsi Meet offers quite an ordinary list of features. At the same time, it has a number of advanced options. Among users, this service is famous for its high security level. For example, Jitsi lets users control all the devices that can access a videoconference.
The platform uses open-source software, and this is another perk for advanced users. It allows them to customise the platform and add new features.
The main weakness of this platform is the limited number of conference participants – there can be no more than 50 people at once. However, that’s usually enough for small businesses, student project teams and other relatively small groups.
Being the most popular platform among online gamers, Discord is quite a powerful service that can be used for business as well. It has good user reviews and was even chosen by a PCMag editor who gave it a very flattering review too. Microsoft tried to buy Discord, and, according to stock market experts, the deal could be valued at $10-18 billion.
One of the main Discord’s strengths is that any user can set up his or her own server to text, audio or video chat with friends or colleagues. It has iOS and Android mobile apps that are compatible with Windows.
What distinguishes the service from the competitors is the ability to be integrated into game consoles like Xbox and PlayStation. So, if you like online gaming, Discord will be a good choice for you.
To start communicating, Discord users create new servers. The maximum number of members is 500,000, but simultaneous use can only go up to 25,000 users.
The server creator can open different types of channels. The channel type determines whether participants communicate via text or audio. Users can also make video calls and send direct messages to each other. The server can include up to 500 channels.
The main disadvantage of the free Discords platform is the strictly limited maximum number of video conference participants. There can be up to 10 of them. In addition, only 720p video streaming at 30 frames per second and 96 kbps audio are available to users for free. A fee is charged for better streaming quality. Another weakness of this platform is its quite cluttered interface.
Mind has been developing video conferencing software for 10 years. At the moment, its main product is iMind.
iMind can be used on any device. The service is browser-based, so you don’t need to download and install any software to create a virtual room for video calls. To join a conference, one should just follow the link. An iMind account is required only to access additional features such as long-term conference records storage, for example.
This platform sets itself apart from competition with its advanced features. Mind has a number of patents, including American ones. The developer has provided several unique technical solutions. For example, iMind can automatically detect the conference participant who is talking at the moment and set their volume to a constant level. The service also offers background noise suppression and allows the conference starter to adjust the volume for each user.
One of main strengths of iMind is its high security level. It’s based on WebRTC technology using 256 bit AES encryption and DTLS for personal information protection. For user authorization, the system utilizes single-use keys instead of passwords. Also, iMind requests users to provide their photos and sends them to the host for him/her to decide whether or not to let users join a conference. So, no uninvited users anymore!
All participants can show other users video from their webcams, screens or browser tabs. Depending on the selected level, users can watch from 4 to 12 screens simultaneously.
Webex is a relatively well-known Cisco product. Webex is a powerful solution that mainly suits big companies. Besides the usual toolset, it offers some features that are rare for video conferencing platforms. Among them, for example, there is an AI-powered assistant that can automatically translate what is said at the meeting and take care of other tasks. However, most of the additional Webex options are available at extra charge.
The free Webex version was launched by Cisco to compete with Zoom, which has a very similar product. Webex offers up to 50 minutes of meeting and up to 100 video conferencing participants free of charge.
Cisco is one of the world leaders in enterprise cybersecurity. The developer used this experience to make Webex safe. The service provides encryption of user data for all the tariffs, including the free option.
Remaining one of the most popular platforms for its class, Webex is also one of the most expensive video conferencing services. Considering business needs, companies usually get more of the necessary capabilities from the Webex paid plans. Therefore, many firms prefer to look for cheaper alternatives.
Another snag with Webex is its occasional connectivity issues – high server load can sometimes cause crashes.
- BlueJeans Meetings
A distinctive feature of BlueJeans is that it offers Dolby Voice for online meetings. BlueJeans users describe video and audio-conferencing quality as incredible. In addition, this solution offers a high level of security.
BlueJeans can be used to schedule, host, and attend meetings with up to 100 participants at the standard rate, 125 participants – at the PRO tariff, and 200 participants – at the enterprise plan. The platform is best suited for small businesses.
There is no free version of this service, which often makes small businesses choose other solutions. Besides, companies need to buy one of the most expensive tariffs to integrate BlueJeans with MS Teams, Zoho and other popular products.
BlueJeans is quite easy to use in browsers and mobile apps, but some users notice that it is rather complicated to switch between different users’ screens in this application. The biggest strength of BlueJeans is that it rarely has delays in getting video streams from other users.