If you’re working from home you’re probably experiencing a new phenomenon, the video call that could have been an email. Everyone wants to create a video hook-up to discuss business, but at the same time, many school kids are now at home and separated from their friends and classmates. So, what are the options for staying in touch via Video in a group-chat!
I called on the support of the team in the EFTM Man Cave, with a bunch of fellas helping me test out a few of the biggest Video conferencing apps out there.
Here’s what we thought.
Probably one of the most simple options available because it requires very little by way of sign-up.
The “Host” of the video call initiates a “meeting”, and the method of inviting people is really as simple as either inviting your own contacts from your Google account or emailing a link out to the participants.
That link can be shared in any way, via a text message or however you choose.
For those on a PC there’s no software to install, and on a mobile phone, there is an app for both Android and iOS.
Call quality was good, video was great, but Audio was difficult with everyone talking at the same time. A bit of Video Conferencing etiquette is required there!
For overall quality, usability and setup simplicity, Google Hangouts is probably the best of the bunch.
It seems like Skype has been around forever, and that’s a good thing – they certainly know how to Video Conference!
Skype requires a software installation to get going, on both the desktop and mobile.
That setup time and account creation might mean the first call takes longer to setup, but it can all be done within minutes really.
We found the call quality to be excellent, probably the best of them all for Video quality.
Skype has a fun “blur background” feature which means that mess in the room won’t be seen by your colleagues or classmates.
Once again, Audio is a challenge if everyone is talking, so respect the others on the call.
On actual call quality and video, I think Skype is probably the best of the free services available.
The Pied Piper of Silicon Valley, Zoom is the upstart taking on the world. And smashing it. They’re immensely popular in the corporate world for the app’s features, simplicity and quality.
As a home-user there is a free account which gives access to 40 minutes of video calling time, but the regular users are probably going to need to stump up to use Zoom more often.
Zoom have announced they’re giving Schools free access, but at this time that’s in some other countries – if that does roll out to Australia, kids and teachers using Zoom might find this to be the best solution of them all.
It really is a great, feature-rich bit of software made from the ground up for this purpose
Sadly my experience with WebEx wasn’t great. Scratchy video of all participants.
However, that was a system issue at my end, because it repeated on a second app in testing.
That said, the resounding agreement among participants was that this was not any better than any of the three we had previously tested.
Great for big corporates who have Cisco (Creators of WebEx) software integration, but for the average home user, this one’s a no go.
Suggested by a user in the group, we gave BlueJeans a go. It does have a free trial period available and if you’re willing that might be worth a go.
The Audio quality here was the best of the bunch. It seemed to handle the group conversation better than any other, and the video was great.
For small business, this might be the best one to consider subscribing to – but for home users, you’re best off with Skype or Google Hangouts.
Those are all options that will work for dedicated video conferencing across almost any device. They are made in consideration for large numbers of participants. Here are a few options great for 1:1 video chats, or small groups like you and your mates.
This is the hottest app of 2020, hitting a nerve at the very time it’s needed. HouseParty is the video social networking app everyone is talking about.
It’s integration into Snapchat and Facebook shows that off just in the setup phase where you can import your Facebook Contacts, show other friends who are using the app and add them to your HouseParty network.
Basically, this is for FUN! There are in-app purchases, so be ready for the kids to want those fun filters everyone else has:)
For 1:1 or group chats, Facetime is ideal for Apple-only families or groups.
But remember, if you’ve got a mate or family member with an Android phone, you’re excluding them by using FaceTime.
My kids enjoy the filters and use of Animoji’s you can have in Facetime, so that adds an element of fun!
A touch clunky, but you can use WhatsApp too – if you’ve got a group chat going, fire up the app and select up to three participants. It’s a four-way split screen, no more than four are available.
Like WhatsApp, you can start a video Chat on Facebook Messenger too! There are the fun filters available if the kids are involved too.
VIDEO CALLING ETIQUETTE
So, when you’re on a video call, a couple of tips.
- Pay attention – stay focussed on the screen and the conversation going on. People can SEE that you’re looking at something else.
- Look at the CAMERA not the screen! Making eye contact is really really hard. For other people to feel that eye-to-eye connection, you actually need to look AT your camera, not at your computer screen where all the people appear. If you’re looking at the screen, people will see you as looking “down” ever so slightly.
- MUTE WHEN NOT TALKING – it’s not hard, press that mute button when others are talking. Any paper shuffling or typing will be heard by everyone on the call if you don’t mute yourself!
- Let people talk – butting in on someone talking is rude normally, but on a video call it just might not even work, so you’ll need to just wait for them to finish and then chime in!
Trev is a Technology Commentator, Dad, Speaker and Rev Head.
He produces and hosts two popular podcasts, EFTM and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He also appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the resident Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show each day and appears regularly on A Current Affair.
Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave.