Tech News and Commentary
Bob in El Paso, Texas listens to the podcasts and asked: “We really like to use some of these social distancing Internet platforms like Zoom. The problem with Zoom is the 40 minute limit on the free version. We’re looking for some alternatives. Can you suggest something that’s good, that allows the family to talk together besides some of the more popular ones that require a subscription?”
Bob, Google Meet should work well for your needs. Their tiled view can show up to 16 participants at a time, if your family members could connect to Zoom they should be able to connect to Google Meet using the same devices.
Google has been pushing it pretty hard lately, so you’re unlikely to run into any annoyances until they conquer more market share and want to monetize it more.
Skype has gotten pretty clunky and bloated but it should work for your family too.
If your family already uses WhatsApp, you can also do video conferences there, which may spare them from having to download an extra app. Microsoft Teams might work for you as well, it’s a little more of a corporate tool meant to help with collaboration on Office documents, but you can ignore that and just use the video.
Other ways of connecting with family is Facebook messenger. They have a video chat option. Snapchat has video chat as well. There you can play games and add filters to your video output. Facetime is another choice if you have an Apple device. It also has filters to make conversations a bit more fun.
Any gamers would probably know Discord is a great way to stay connected while playing video games or you and your family can video chat and play games with one another with Houseparty.
There are many, many others, but most of the good ones have the same problem Zoom has for your use case: they’re marketed towards businesses and have limits.
For example, Whereby is pretty good but it has a low amount of participants on free accounts, BlueJeans costs less than Zoom per month but has no free version, WebEx feels like something someone forgot to keep updating 5 years ago and the free version will cut you off after less than an hour, and GoToMeeting has no free version.
The good news here is that there are plenty of options even if most products are aimed towards paid use for business.
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