Zoom Vs. 5 Competitors: What’s the Best Video Conferencing Software?
More people than ever are holding frequent video meetings with friends, family, or as part of their remote work routine. In this time, Zoom has become the undisputed king of video conferencing software — a staple in anyone’s work-from-home starter kit and a household name in the tech space. They’ve also achieved remarkable downloads from 2020 onwards.
While its fame comes from the dynamism and extent of its features, what made it universally acclaimed was its user-friendliness — especially for people without tech-savviness.
That said, technology is always on the move, looking to improve what already exists even if/when the bar is set too high. As such, it’s important not to marry a single tool, to keep your fingers on the pulse of the many alternatives on the market, and to be willing to try them once in a while.
For that reason, we curated a list comparing the top video conferencing solutions to make it easier for you to choose what’s the best option out of them all in 2023.
5 Video Conferencing Software You Should Know in 2023
Zoom is great at what it does: providing an integral solution to video conferencing. However, it may not be the best at solving your specific needs as a business or as an individual consumer. In fact, it may even be too much (or full-blown overkill) to what you need it for.
Up next, we’ll share the benefits of using Zoom and 5 of its top competitors in the video conferencing software space to keep you updated on what they have to offer.
The crown-holder of video conferencing, Zoom became the fastest-growing software in the category in 2020. It’s developed by parent company Zoom Video Communications and can be used both on desktop computers as well as through its phone app.
Zoom can be considered the simplest, most user-friendly option of them all. It also has several core functionalities that add value to the experience:
- The ability to stream both regular meetings and even massive webinars
- Any single video call can last up to 30 hours and host 1,000 simultaneous participants (depending on the purchased plan)
- Breakout rooms, which allow you to separate participants inside a large call into several smaller groups to incentivize discussion or other team-building activities
- The use of polls and whiteboards to promote audience participation
- Streaming of meetings and video calls directly to social media
- Hundreds of integrations with other third-party apps
Speaking of pricing, Zoom offers the following capabilities to its users on their free plan:
- One-on-one video calls without a time limit
- Calls with up to 100 people with a 40 minute limit
This leaves plenty of room for you to try it out before deciding to purchase a premium plan.
As an interesting fact, out of hundreds of millions of users, 89% use Zoom for work, while 63% use it to interact with friends and family.
Around is a recently-launched startup forging the future of collaboration through innovative video conferencing software. It works similarly to Zoom, shares many of the same functionalities, and its free plan even works under the same conditions as Zoom’s.
Around is poised to become a very strong video conferencing competitor in the coming years, especially following its acquisition by visual collaboration platform Miro in October 2022 as part of their new product incubation division, Miro Labs.
Gather is an attractive and unconventional contender in the video conferencing space stemming from the idea to create a more unique, immersive, and playful experience for your meetings.
In Gather, you build a fully customizable digital office using an 8-bit map that seems straight out of an online role-playing game. You and your colleagues can interact with the different elements in this digital space, and even access an in-game meeting room that’ll cause you to start an actual video conference with everyone “physically” present.
Aside from that, Gather provides fluid video and audio chat, a digital collaborative whiteboard, the ability to create documents within meetings, and even minigames to take a break.
Gather is free for teams up to 25 people, allowing for plenty of leeway to see if it fits your team.
As its name suggests, Microsoft Teams is a business communication platform that’s part of Microsoft 365’s family of products. Like Zoom, it enjoyed a healthy spike in growth throughout 2020 and has become one of the most relied on options in the market.
Teams’ features go beyond just the ability to launch video calls. These other features include:
- Voice calling
- Public, private, and interpersonal communication channels within your organization
- Real-time file editing
- File storage
- Seamless integration with other Microsoft products
- Integration for hundreds of third-party apps
One advantage of Teams is that participants can attend meetings without the need to install any software beforehand. One thing to note though is that it is more akin to Slack than it is to Zoom, as it was conceived as a virtual workplace for companies to work remotely.
Teams currently enjoys over 270 million monthly users, and its free plan is more generous than Zoom’s, granting the chance to host calls for up to 60 minutes with 100 participants.
Google Hangouts, Google Chat, and Google Meet
As should be expected, internet giant Google also offers their own suite of solutions to facilitate cross-platform communication.
Google’s three main instant messaging and internet telephony products are:
- Google Hangouts
- Google Chat
- Google Meet
Google Hangouts was a messaging service that allowed free text messaging and video calls between Gmail users across devices (with calls limited to 10 participants and only on desktop). However, it will be shut down completely on November 1, 2022 in favor of Chat, with Google migrating all of its users to the latter in the process.
Google Chat, in turn, is an instant messaging integration to both Gmail and Google Workspace, intended to make communication clearer across collaborators. Much like Microsoft Teams, its advantages include the integration of file-sharing, real-time file editing, task assignment, and email services, all within one virtual workspace.
Google Meet, on the other hand, is a free-to-use video meeting service with premium features akin to Zoom’s.
Like most Google products, you can start using all the aforementioned for free just by owning a Google account, and as long as you don’t need capabilities that exceed those of the free plan, you can remain on the free plan for as long as you need.
Skype at one point in time used to be a synonym for video-chatting (much like Zoom is nowadays). And while it doesn’t hold the same weight as back then, it’s still a fairly good alternative for smaller meetings that don’t need advanced features beyond audio and video features.
Formally known as Skype Meet Now, it can be downloaded on both desktop and smartphones, allowing users to hold meetings for up to 24 hours for 20 simultaneous participants.
Skype’s biggest advantage is being completely free to use. On top of that, guests don’t have to sign up or create an account to join active calls, making it one of the most accessible options available.
One thing to note, however, is that Skype’s functionalities are slowly being rolled over into Microsoft Teams — the company’s superior hub for virtual collaboration. As such, while Skype may continue to exist as an independent piece of software to cover more basic needs, it’s probably heading towards the end of its life cycle.
Choosing the Best Video Conferencing Software in 2023
Choosing what video conferencing software to use in 2023 depends mostly on your individual needs.
Some of the aforementioned, like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, are better suited for massive online events, large organizations, and enterprise-level use. However, most folks do not need such heavy gear. Instead, alternatives like Around or Google Meet suffice for medium-sized audiences who want to stream workshops, meetings, or corporate training.
Lastly, there are tools strictly intended for casual use among smaller groups who don’t necessarily need video functions, like Google Chat, which may in turn make them easier to use as well.
Now that you know this difference, make sure to pick a couple of them to account for every different scenario, while also keeping 1 or more of them ready as backup in case of emergencies, like your favorite option receiving maintenance.
Q1. What are the 5 types of video conference?
These are 5 common types of use cases for video conferences: One-on-one video calls, group hangouts, seminars/keynotes, virtual team meetings, and online classroom settings, according to Singaporean cloud communications company Vox Valley.
Here are some scenarios in which each of them is used in:
- One-on-ones: consulting calls, job interviews, and negotiation meetings with clients
- Group hangouts: socializing with friends and family
- Seminars/keynotes: webinars or online summits with larger audiences
- Virtual team meetings: remote teams working from home
- Online classroom settings: virtual learning experiences with medium-sized audiences, such as university classes
Q2. How does Google Hangouts compare to Zoom?
Unlike Zoom, which is intended for both individual users and large-scale companies, Google Hangout is better suited for personal usage or small group meetings only. Its video sharing is limited to 10 people (though up to 150 participants can join a call using the chat only). Lastly, Google Hangouts’ video calls are only available on its desktop app, while Zoom can be downloaded and used on any phone, making it a more viable, on-the-go solution.
Important to note is that Google Hangouts will be seized in favor of Google Chat in November 2022.
Q3. Is Skype better than Zoom?
While Skype was at one point a synonym for “video conferencing,” Zoom has since stolen its crown and a considerable part of its market share. The reason is that Zoom is a bigger scale solution with a maximum capacity of 1,000 participants — while Skype caps it at 100. Another reason is Zoom’s ability to create breakout rooms, something Skype does not have. Lastly, Zoom also has polling and whiteboard features to engage audiences, which Skype does not.
The deciding feature, however, may be that out of the two, Zoom is the only one that allows you to stream your meetings on social media.
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