We are all social beings – whether you are introverted, extroverted, or somewhere in between, at some point in our day we interact with other people. Going through a pandemic in conjunction with social distancing forces us all to think outside of the box on ways to have social interactions. Video conferencing has become a very popular way to not only complete business on a daily basis, but it has also become a great way to stay connected with family and friends.
What Is Video Conferencing
Video conferencing is video technology that allows individuals to have live face to face interaction at remote locations without having to physically be in the same space. Before the pandemic, most of you were probably already participating in some sort of video conferencing via FaceTime for iPhone users and Google Duo for all you Android lovers. Did you ever think this would be the new norm for having social connections such as happy hours, celebrations (birthdays, baby showers, engagements, births, etc) or attending all meetings at work? Here are five of the top applications to use for video conferencing and highlights on each.
Zoom: This app has become very popular in the last several months and surely you have heard of it by now. Zoom is designed to be used on your computer or mobile device, has customizable backgrounds, and has tiers (paid and unpaid) for accessibility. The free option can support up to 100 participants, however each session can not exceed 40 minutes. The paid version, starting at $14.99 per month, allows more capabilities such as extended meeting times, more than 100 participants and the ability for various add ons’. One thing to note is that Zoom has had some issues with security so make sure to read the fine print on privacy and security before signing up.
Skype: Some might be thinking, is Skype still around? While others are saying Skype is a good alternative to Zoom. Skype actually started in 2003 and its original name was Skyper, later shortened to Skype. Skype provides free calls anywhere in the world as long as both users are using Skype and can support up to 50 people at once. There are some additional costs if you want to upgrade to texts, voicemails, or make calls to cellphones and landlines outside of the Skype application. This is another great free option for basic use especially if you have friends or family on the other side of the world!
FaceTime: Alright all you Apple lovers, this one is for you. Since we all have such a hard time putting our devices down, this application is literally at your fingertips. FaceTime can be used with your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. FaceTime is another great free option if you are using WiFi or cellular data. As with the other video chatting apps, FaceTime has a group option allowing up to 32 people to chat at once. So bust out your Memoji, set up a family call and get Sunday game night going again!
Google Duo: We can’t leave out our Android users. Google Duo comes preinstalled on most new Android devices and is a quick download for those without Androids. Duo is completely free to use and has the ability to record and send video messages. This could be a fun way to still connect with family and friends even if they aren’t available at the same time as you. As with the other apps there is a cap of 8 users per group, which is much smaller than the other video chatting platforms but still does the trick!
FaceBook Messenger: Facebook might be taking over the world because of their cool features such as Facebook Messenger. Messenger is available in most countries and another great way to connect with those domestically and internationally. There are no fees for international calling and you can connect with up to 50 of your closest friends. Messenger is compatible with iPhone, iPad, Android phones or even your desktop computer. Chatting anytime, anywhere and on any device!
Choosing Video Conferencing Applications
There is no right or wrong way to choose the best video conferencing platform, it is total preference. Try them out, see which one you like the best and which one will be easiest to use for you and your family. It might be helpful to consider advanced capabilities for each application (upgrading to the paid version) and also looking into the security and privacy settings.
Tips and Tricks For Video Conferencing
By now, you probably have a day or days of the week for your scheduled video calls with homeschooling or to keep in touch with family. Here are a few tips to ensure a smooth call:
- Internet Connection: This may sound silly, but check your internet connection. There are places within your home that have stronger connectivity points, so check those out and use that space. The last thing you want is for your screen to keep freezing up due to poor connectivity.
- Fully Charged Battery: It is easy to forget to charge your device when it is not in use. Video conferencing uses a lot of power, more so than your average functions such as checking emails or responding to text messages. Make sure to check your battery level and have that charger handy and near a plug for a quick recharge!
- Choose The Right Environment: whether you are using this for homeschooling or connecting with family, choose an environment where you can hear and one with little distraction. Make sure they’re is good lighting, a comfortable seat and that the sound is easily heard. It will make all the difference in the world to have the right designated space!
Going through a worldwide pandemic is scary and at times you may find it to be a little lonely. Video chatting has made connecting with distant family and friends a little easier and has given us a way to fill the gap of not having those physical encounters. Embrace the change and check out different applications until you find a good fit. Raise your virtual glass and cheers 2020 technology!
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on Community Engagement During The COVID-19 Pandemic.