With the advent of COVID-19, social distancing is a requirement to mitigate the spread of the virus. As such organising conference meetings online has become a very important medium for keeping your organisation or institution functional. This article seeks to provide some of the best free apps for organising meetings online.
1. Google Meet
Google Meet is a video communication service developed by Google in March 2017. The service was unveiled as a video conferencing app for up to 30 participants, described as an enterprise-friendly version of Hangouts. At launch, it featured a web app, an Android app, and an iOS app.
In 2020, Google Meet can be used to host free unlimited high definition video meetings with up to 250 persons. Some of its best features include:
- Meet safely – video meetings are encrypted in transit and proactive anti-abuse measures help keep your meetings safe
- Host unlimited high-definition video meetings
- Easy access – just share a link and invited guests can join with one click from a desktop web browser or the Google Meet mobile app
- Share your screen to present documents, slides and more
To download the app for your platform go to https://meet.google.com
2. CISCO Webex Meetings
Supports: Up to 100 participants for an unlimited duration.
CISCO is a name usually associated with pricey Enterprise products, generally beyond the reach of free users. Webex is the company’s web conferencing solution, and it comes with a robust free option for those looking for a barebones video conferencing solution.
Host up to 100 participants in a single call, for as long as you want. There are no limits on the number of calls you can place, and you get 1 GB of cloud storage with your free account. Conferences include support for features like screen sharing, video recording, and file sharing.
Webex allows users in up to 52 countries to use a standard telephone to join any conference. Participants who want to use their webcams have a choice of website, dedicated desktop apps, or mobile apps for iPhone and Android (complete with their own screen sharing features).
3. Zoom Meetings
Supports: Up to 100 participants for 40 minutes.
Zoom is a full video conferencing suite aimed at Enterprise-level users, with an attractive free option. Users with a free account can host video conferences for up to 100 participants, but conferences of 3 members or more are limited to 40 minutes.
You can upgrade to a paid plan to remove these restrictions, or simply keep your conferences short and sweet. There are no limits on the number of meetings you can host, so you could simply host a new call once you’ve hit the limit.
Zoom allows participants to join via the web, dedicated apps, browser extensions, and mobile devices using iPhone and Android apps. Users can call in via phone if they need to. Free users can also record video or audio locally and share screens with other conference participants.
Supports: Up to 50 participants for an unlimited duration.
Skype is a popular VoIP app that most users will have heard of by now. It’s suitable for video conferencing for small teams of up to 50 people (including the host), free of charge. The company rolled out the expanded video calling feature in April 2019, improving on the previous limit of 25.
Anyone can join the meeting from a web browser on a computer. On a mobile device, people may need to download the Skype app to participate.
Skype includes a useful cloud-based call recording feature that any member of the call can trigger. This will notify other participants that the call is being recorded, and allows users to save and share the recording for up to 30 days.
Supports: Up to five video participants and 1000 audio participants for an unlimited duration.
Contrary to what the name suggests, FreeConference isn’t a free service. It’s a premium service with a decent free option that might be useful in some instances. For video conferencing, FreeConference only supports up to 5 participants on the free tier.
What makes FreeConference potentially shine, however, is its support for up to 1000 audio participants to call in via telephone. The service also takes a software-free approach to video calling, allowing most users to connect with nothing more than a browser.
FreeConference also offers mobile apps for iPhone and Android, which are open to free users. Unfortunately, there is no ability to record your call unless you’re willing to upgrade to a premium package.