Around the world individuals and businesses have been forced to accept a new normal at the hands of the novel Coronavirus. As part of this new normal we’re all confined to our houses or apartments, practising social distancing and self-isolation as a way to mitigate the spread of the virus.
But being away from work and the social interactions that we’re used to has far-reaching implications from many perspectives. Businesses are struggling to keep their employees focused and motivated, the lack of social interaction is taking a toll on the mental health of individuals and we’re all struggling to adapt to a new way of working and socialising.
Luckily for us, a host of tools exist to support our endeavours to keep our lives as normal as possible.
Enter Zoom, Google Hangouts Meet and Houseparty
Over the past few days and weeks you might have become more familiar with the names presented above, maybe some more so than others. These are the video conferencing services taking the world by storm as individuals and businesses adjust to having to work from remote environments.
The services allow for a sense of connectedness between team members and families at a time when, for most, physical interaction is not possible or even safe. The services are designed for different target markets and their functionality has been developed accordingly. Here’s a high level of what they each look like followed by a breakdown of each product according to some set criteria:
Zoom: An independent video conferencing tool built primarily for enterprise or business clients to support their employees’ video calling or conferencing requirements.
Google Hangouts Meet: Google’s constantly-rebranded entry into the enterprise video calling and conferencing world. Hangouts Meet is integrated into the G Suite ecosystem.
Google Hangouts: Google’s longest-running video calling application.
Houseparty: A social network geared towards video interactions with colleagues, friends and family.
One of the most important aspects of video calling or conferencing software is that it is as accessible as possible to the group that intends to use it. Calls should be easy to start, painless to join and comfortable to participate in. In this category, Zoom is a clear winner for the ease at which calls can be both started and joined. Google Hangouts is also a contended for the top spot. Google Hangouts Meet is part of a larger ecosystem, which forces you to adopt the Google way. This, to some, can be a challenge. Houseparty is not designed to be used for business meetings or ‘normal’ catchups, it is more of a social experience.
All of the services named above can be used for free in some capacity with certain limitations imposed. Google Hangouts is Google’s free entry into the video conferencing market whereas their Hangouts Meet offering is geared towards paid-for enterprise accounts. Zoom has a generous free tier. Houseparty is free as an application for iOS and Android.
As you scale your need for more capacity, be it in call length or participants, each service will introduce new tiers of pricing to suit your needs. Google Hangouts and Houseparty don’t have offerings in this respect. Google Hangouts Meet’s pricing tiers will depend on the underlying G Suite account while Zoom’s pricing follows an ordinarily-tiered structure.
Which is the best?
It really does depend.
The beauty of the modern Internet is that you can try all of these services before committing anything to them. The service that will suit individuals best is the one that they feel most comfortable in. In certain cases this decision may not fall on their shoulders which is unfortunately beyond their control.
But for the most part the service you prefer will largely depend on what you intend to do with it and who else will be joining you and what their preferences are. Zoom and Hangouts Meet are great for business meetings, but could you host a really great business meeting on Houseparty? Of course, if you wanted to. Social media has been ablaze with individuals using Zoom to have birthday parties and social dinners. The services are not confined to their prescriptive use cases.
Where Arqino can help?
We’ve got experience deploying solutions for businesses trying to transform themselves to accommodate unexpected changes or new ways of working. Contact us to chat about how we can help you move your services online.