Staying connected with video conferencing
Helpdesk Heroes Filip’s tips to staying connected with video conferencing software
Social connection is the experience of feeling close and connected to others, by definition, we all need our daily dose of human contact, which, this pandemic has taken away from us. Luckily, there are many tools to keep in touch with friends, family, and colleagues, aside from the average phone call.
With social distancing and working from home measures likely to be extended until later this year, we have asked Filip, Technical Support Engineer at Helpdesk Heroes, to tell us more about the video conferencing tools used to stay virtually connected with clients, friends, and family.
Since I am a technical support guy much of my work takes place behind a screen. So social distancing at work is not new for me. As a musician who loves to play to crowds and enjoys a busy social life then it’s a little different. So I have been keeping up with friends and family online more than ever using Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom.
Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom have been close contenders in the past few weeks. Each provider has been watching one another closely and engaged in what seems to be THE weekly update battle of the year. The good news is that in this competitive edge, the video call services have improved security, introduced new features, and make some of their services free. I have compared these three video-conferencing services for you.
Google Meet – Google has been the leading company when it comes to connecting people. There’re many excellent apps in the G Suite, but one that has turned out to be the most helpful in the past few weeks is Google Meet. Recently rebranded from Google Hangout Meet, It’s the perfect business-focused video conferencing service. You can organise a call with up to 100 people and, at least until September 30th, there isn’t a meeting time limit.
This is the perfect option, for smaller businesses, that don’t necessarily want to invest in a video chat service but still want to run the business as usual, virtually. Whether you’re running a business call with future stakeholders or a painting class, there are a few features you might find useful.
- Overall, Google Meet is the cheapest option (if you’re looking to invest in a video-conference solution), starting from £6 per month, it’s also great for participants needing to call in rather than join via video as Google doesn’t charge an additional call-in fee.
- Enjoy frictionless meetings - Meet is great for larger groups and includes features like scheduling, screen-sharing, and real-time captioning. Although you need a Google account to use the free version of Meet, it seems that it is a great option for friction-free video call scheduling. You can set up a meeting and share a link without worrying about co-workers, clients, or customers having the right accounts or plug-ins, and that’s a massive plus.
- Sharing screen - Last but not least, Google Meet has an easy screen-sharing option that’s both native and handy. The ‘’ Present now’’ button gives you three options: share your entire screen, which can be a downside – you may not want everyone to see what’s going on your screen (no judgment here!). You will have the option to share a single window, which is perfect for those who keep a messy desktop. Or, share a single Chrome tab, which is ideal if you need to share something on YouTube or a website –and keeping the rest of your browsing hidden.
Things to consider
- You can only access Meet via a Google Chrome web browser, although this might not be a huge obstacle, it can be restrictive for those using other browsers.
- Unfamiliarity with Meet, might cause delays, allow some discovery time before diving into your first meeting.
- Meet doesn't include some of the valuable features that other providers offer like whiteboard tools and poll-and-survey options.
Microsoft Teams – We can thank Bill Gates for this amazing software. Although he didn’t build it, he was the key protagonist when Microsoft was in the process of acquiring Slack and said ‘’ why don’t we build on our app?’’, thus, Teams was born.
Teams is a chat-based workplace that works well for companies that have collaboration at the centre of their ethos and is even more worthwhile now that we all have to work remotely.
- Teams allows you to share information, continuously in chats and is fully integrated with many other Microsoft 365 tools. It was designed to get people to work more effectively together and the difference between Teams and Slack is OneNote, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, SharePoint are all in one place.
- Teams is the ideal teamwork hub. Used in combination with Microsoft 365, you can work and collaborate from anywhere, as Teams is super secure, all the data in Teams is encrypted, which means, it is harder to experience a data breach. Available on Android and iOS (audio only), Teams is your easy-to-use option to chat with your teammate via text, voice, or video.
Things to consider
- Teams works best for companies that are all-in on Microsoft 365, hybrid setups might not benefit from the full extent of the service.
- For those who care to know where files are ‘’ physically ‘’ stored, Teams might be a let-down here. The way files are stored might be a bit confusing for those who like to go through folders to find files they need rather than simply search-typing for what they need.
Last but not least, Zoom
Zoom – is a video conferencing service that was considered niche and primarily used by companies up until a pandemic had us all wanting to catch up with all the people we care about. Victim of their own rapid growth, Zoom had to release updates to help with the security issue they had been facing in the past few weeks.
Zoom is the perfect option for those who are looking for a reliable video conferencing service with an integrated live chat.
- Zoom is a great free choice if you are looking to have, for example, unlimited one-on-one meetings, or hosting a virtual conference of up to 100 participants for 40 minutes.
- To respond to ‘’Zoom-bombings’ described as a new kind of attack in which unwanted individuals were entering video meetings shouting offensive language and threats in an attempt to disrupt, Zoom 5.0 has recently been made available in an effort to tackle security issues. It comes with a new encryption algorithm and new security features too. With this version, the meeting password is on by default as well as the waiting room feature.
- Zoom’s virtual backgrounds are another essential detail, you can now hide whatever is behind you in the video, and pretend you’re in the Milky Way galaxy, or at the top of the Kilimanjaro, or inside the White House – wherever you’d rather be, there’s no limit to your imagination with Zoom’s virtual backgrounds.
Things to consider
- If you’re meeting with more than 3 collaborators and have a free account, there’s a 40-minute time limit – which can be bypassed by starting a new conversation with participants, although this might drive people away.
- Although Zoom Meeting appears to be an affordable option, if you wish to have more than one host per account, it comes as an add-on. If you only have one host and that person is absent, paid features won’t be available.
So in conclusion, these three video conferencing tools each have there own pros and cons, but all in all are the best way to stay connected.
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