In everyday life there can be many situations in which you want to talk to many people at the same time, face to face. If the audio is not enough, the ideal is to use a group video calling service. Both for companies and large families like mine, it is a way of practically being in the same room. In recent years, in addition to a very noticeable improvement in quality image, there was a very large increase in people who can intervene simultaneously.
We will review free and paid services, as each one usually offers things that the rest do not.
11 FREE VIDEO CALL PROGRAMS and APPS
Hangouts is a Google platform with which, in its beginnings, it was speculated that the Mountain View company could compete with WhatsApp. A large group of users hated their birth because ended Google Talk, which was based on totally open protocols, in front of Hangouts owners.
Although it has not triumphed among the general public, it is a great tool for group video calls, and for this it is used a lot in companies. It allows up to 25 participants in video in the business version, 10 in the normal version and 150 in chat, and for podcasts it is very interesting because it can connect to YouTube for live broadcasts and for the video platform to save it automatically. The convenience it offers is that it is used without the need to open an application. It allows share screen, great for showing how to perform certain simple tasks.
Skype was one of the first services to guarantee quality audio in online calls, a fact that earned it to be bought by Microsoft to later be merged with MSN Messenger and put an end to the mythical messaging service. In audio, up to 25 people can join in a group call.
In video it also works very well, allowing them to talk up to 10 people simultaneously in the free version. It is a generally robust tool, one of the most used in podcasts. The audio, yes, it is always better to record it locally in case you want to obtain the best quality. Many users have stopped using it due to having to log into the application, something uncomfortable. It has recently begun to offer the possibility of save the call file.
We have also talked about Appear.in on Genbeta, and it is probably the fastest and most direct service to start a video call. In that sense, no need to install anything (except in iOS, where it is required to download from the App Store) so that up to 12 twelve people start seeing each other’s faces in the paid version, which in turn can have up to 10 rooms. In the free version, the number of participants is reduced to 4.
In addition to the higher number, the paid version allows local recordings. For organized meetings, the integration it has with Trello comes in handy.
Gruveo is another old acquaintance, but not so attractive for its price, $ 29 a month. It offers calls as simple as those of Appear.in, that is, just by sending a link, the rest of the participants will be able to enter the conversation.
On desktop it works on the web, with WebRTC support, and on iOS and Android you have to install the application. The shared screen is, as in the rest of its competitors, and it also supports HD call recording. It allows 12 simultaneous conferees.
Zoom is one of the video calling services of the moment. In its free mode, it allows up to 100 participants in a host’s call.
Of course, there is a limitation of up to 45 minutes for each call. For calls of much longer duration you have to pay. In that sense, it is a service designed for companies that need to hold very long work sessions.
Although any service related to Facebook arouses a lot of suspicion for privacy reasons, Facebook Messenger is a service that offers the possibility that up to 50 people participate in a group conversation. As with Skype, the high number is for voice only, and only six people can be shown simultaneously on video.
As is known, it can be used through the web and from the dedicated iOS and Android applications.
Bonus: mobile special
Instagram and WhatsApp have recently released the possibility of making group calls. The maximum number of simultaneous users, four, is very low compared to the other services we have reviewed, and they do not offer tools for screen sharing or recording.
Finally, it is assumed that the FaceTime update with which video calls of up to 32 participants can be made is coming, and Apple dated it this fall its arrival, after withdrawing it from iOS 12.