Zoom became the most popular video conferencing app this lockdown. However, with the growing fame came a lot of backlash in terms of security loopholes and data mismanagement. So, much so, that many countries had to ban usage in internal meetings. Zoom being intuitive and scalable, people still stuck with it.
We recently had 2 big announcements. First, Google made it’s premium video conferencing service free, and second, Facebook announced its own web conferencing system, Messenger Rooms for creators. So, with these announcements, we are finally looking at zoom alternatives in the truest sense. Here are all of them.
Best Zoom Alternatives
Before we begin with the alternatives, there are 3 main things that led to Zoom’s popularity.
- Ease – The ease with which you could hold meetings with around 100 people for free.
- Scalability – Zoom not only allowed you to host meetings with 100 people but looked quite while doing it. At the time of lockdown, how many apps let you host meetings with 100 people for free?
- Moderation – Although Zoombombing was a huge issue, I felt Zoom had enough meeting roles and moderation.
Hence, while looking at ideal Zoom alternatives, we didn’t include Discord, Riot IM, and Microsoft Teams in this list because those are more of collaborative and communication tools. Let’s get to the first one.
1. Google Meet
Participant Limit: 100 people
Google was the latest to enter the video conferencing battle. On May 8th, 2020, it became accessible to everyone who has a Google account. Until 30th September 2020, there would be no time-limit on meetings or limits of any sort. Post that, video calls will have a time limit of 60 minutes.
Compared to Zoom, Google Meet has a simpler UI. There are only 2 buttons on the web page. One is to start a meeting and the other is to join one. Now, unlike Zoom, you need to have a Google account in order to join or host a meeting. By default, the host needs to permit everyone to join a meeting. Apart from this, you can unmute and disconnect other participants from the meeting.
Google Meet is an ideal alternative when compared to the ease and scalability of Zoom. However, it lacks the meeting recording feature. It’s available only for GSuite users. Moreover, there’s no inbuilt whiteboard, waiting room, breakout room, etc.
- Easy to host meetings for up to 100 participants for free
- No meeting time-limit as of now until Sept 30, 2020
- No option to record the meeting for basic Gmail users
- No breakout rooms, waiting room, etc
- No native whiteboard for collaboration
Visit Google Meet
2. Facebook Messenger Rooms
Participant Limit: 50 people
The next zoom alternative we have is the recently launched – ‘Messenger rooms’ from Facebook. Currently, it hasn’t rolled to every Messenger user but we were lucky enough to have early access. Messenger Rooms as of now allows 50 users to join Facebook video conferences. Unlike Google Meet, you don’t need to have a Facebook account to join a video conference.
In the messenger app, just below your Profile, you have a link called “Create a Room”. It will instantly create a video conference which can be joined by others from even a web browser without a Facebook account. We have used it for a while and the video quality is good.
Now, coming to moderation, you have the option to choose whether the person needs to have a Fb account to join the meeting. Overall, Rooms is a good Zoom alternative where most have a Facebook account. And in the future, it plans to integrate with Instagram, WhatsApp, and Portal in the future. But, you know in the case of FB, the issue might not be outside but within the app itself. But, let’s give the service a fair share of time and see how things roll out.
- Video conferences with up to 50 participants
- Participants need not have a FB account or messenger app
- AR emojis from Fb Messenger during video chat
- No real moderation or collaborative tools
Download Facebook Messenger
3. Jitsi Meet
Participant Limit: 75 people
Now, Facebook and Google, both have their fair share of privacy issues in the past, so if you are looking for something open-source – Jitsi Meet is the answer. It’s similar to Zoom and another open-source video conferencing app called BigBlueButton. However, there are 3 important reasons to choose Jitsi Meet over any other open-source video conferencing app.
- Jitsi Meet has dedicated mobile apps
- Similar to Zoom, Jitsi Meet is quite easy to use and requires little-to-no onboarding
- It allows you to directly live stream on YouTube from within Jitsi Meet
Apart from this, Jitsi Meet supports video conference with up to 75 people and there’s no time-limit on the meetings. The only problem with Jitsi Meet is that there’s absolutely no moderation. No one’s host and no one’s participant. Meaning, anyone can kick you out of the meeting or mute you. In our testing, the video quality wasn’t as good as the previous two apps or even Zoom. However, the development is currently a lot active and you can read more on their blog.
- Can hold up to 75 participants and unlimited meetings
- Option to record meetings and share screen
- Ability to hold YouTube live stream from within the app
- Dedicated Android and iOS apps unlike other open-source alternatives
- No moderation whatsoever in the meetings
- Video quality is slightly average as per our testing
Visit Jitsi Meet
Participant Limit: 49 people
Skype wasn’t considered in recent times as Zoom alternatives. Mostly, because it was hard to create video conferences for non-Skype people. To add to that, Microsoft abandoned Skype in pursuit of Microsoft Teams. But, until recently, it has introduced Skype Meet. It’s a simple web app that requires no sign-up to either host or to join a meeting.
Skype Meet is also integrated into the Skype app wherein you will see this “Meet Now” button on the home page. Apart from this, you also get group polls which are paid in Zoom. Moreover, on Skype, anyone can record the meeting and the recording is shared at the end of the call. There’s no host or delegation of responsibilities. You can unmute people and that’s pretty much it.
- Option to host and join a meeting without Skype ID
- Up to 49 participants
- Allows cloud recording of the meeting
- Other features like file sharing, screen sharing, group polls, etc
- No moderation of the meeting
- Doesn’t have a waiting
Visit Skype Meet
5. Cisco Webex
Participant Limit: 100 people
The final zoom alternative we have is Cisco Webex. It was one of the first apps to go free in order to help people working from home. So, the perks you get in the free variant are as follows:
- Foremost, you can schedule meetings with 100 participants, and meetings can last as long as you need
- WebEx allows screen sharing and recording of meetings locally
Compared to the other apps in this list, Cisco WebEx does have better moderation. We’ll get to that in a bit.
Now, similar to Zoom, Cisco WebEx also has a personal meeting room. In case, you’re holding a meeting with random people, don’t use your personal meeting ID. It doesn’t have a password. You would be better off scheduling a meeting that has a random password, by default.
Unlike Zoom there’s no waiting room in WebEx. So, a person who clicks on the link would be directly redirected to the meeting room. However, by default, WebEx locks the meeting room after 10 minutes. So, once the meeting is locked, you will have to allow everyone individually to the meeting room.
- Ability to host meetings with 100 people
- Group polls and local recording of meetings
- Option to delegate host and leave the meeting
- Personal meeting room doesn’t have a password by default
- No option to enable waiting room in meetings
- No Linux App
- The web app doesn’t allow recording of meetings and group polls
Visit Cisco WebEx
Overall, Google Meet and Facebook Rooms are the real alternatives. And, if you want super privacy, then do try out Jitsi Meet. Works great! These are the ones that perform flawlessly in our weeks of testing. If most people in your team are already Skype users and only a few of them don’t have an account, then go for Skype meetings.