Ask Dr. Ann: What’s the Best Videoconferencing Software?
Is there a “best” videoconferencing software? When would you recommend someone use Google Meet versus Microsoft Teams versus Zoom?
The “best” videoconferencing software is the one that meets the needs of your organization and users, and too few AV/IT folks take the time to find out what their users truly need. In today’s environment, all three of the vendors mentioned should be available to all users since people no longer live in the internal in-house bubble where the same technology is used by everyone in all circumstances. There is a need to speak with customers, partners, suppliers and other organizations who may have selected many vendor offerings.
Videoconferencing software has become a vital technology for businesses, educational institutions and consumers. As a result of the pandemic, videoconferencing software has experienced a huge surge in adoption with old and new customers leveraging video communications and collaboration features. Many videoconferencing vendors adopted special offers or freemium deployment models to entice new customers.
Google Meet is a cloud-based video conferencing service that has become a staple for enterprises, corporations and Google G Suite customers. (It is one of the many services available to Google G Suite subscribers.) The service can handle large meetings, livestreaming for up to 100,000 viewers within an area and can record meetings on Google Drive for later broadcasting. As a pure videoconferencing solution, Google Meet is easy to set up and join meetings on a PC as well as on mobile devices. It offers encryption and robust security.
Microsoft combines videoconferencing, collaboration and business VoIP (voice over internet protocol) in a single app that integrates with the rest of Microsoft’s business meeting suite and is accessible to Microsoft Office 365 Business subscribers. Since it seamlessly integrates video calling into its solutions stack, it is worth considering for new videoconferencing solutions. Teams features lean toward integrated tools like file sharing, instant messaging and group collaboration. Microsoft Teams makes the most sense for organizations that are already invested in the Microsoft Office 365 system.
Zoom became very popular when the pandemic arrived. It empowers people to convey information through private or group chat and easily send or receive files. Meetings can be recorded and accessible for the individuals who couldn’t go to the live meeting. It is easy to use with a competitive conferencing platform. Zoom has fixed initial issues with security, and it is now robust — it increased protection for meeting data and tampering issues. Zoom offers solid collaboration tools with a wide range of control over the video experience including a variety of image backgrounds and the ability to tweak audio controls.
Videoconferences are not limited to just PCs and laptops. Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams are all available for Android and iOS-based mobile devices.
While Microsoft Teams and Google Meet have excelled because — among other reasons — users can access them directly through other search engines such as Chrome or Safari (without any requirement for additional plug-ins), Zoom has excelled when it comes to user interface and experience. Zoom is also popular for its gallery-view display that accommodates up to 49 participants on a single screen. Google Meet provides a similar interface by enabling an expanded tiled layout that shows up to 16 participants. Microsoft Teams offers a limited viewing capacity of four participants on-screen regardless of the number of people in the meeting. Another plus for Google, it added a low-light mode to adjust video based on lighting conditions which are limited to mobile users. Microsoft Teams offers full Office 365 applications into Teams, which makes the full set of workstream collaboration offer a broader surface area of usage.
Selecting a perfect videoconferencing fit for your organization depends less on the best qualities and more on your business needs. The best videoconferencing software also depends upon your budget, the suite you are using within the organization, team size and the protection you need. Learn how your employees work, with whom they meet on a regular basis and their willingness to try new technologies. In the current working and meeting environment, it should be expected that many people will end up having experience with Google Meet, Microsoft Teams and Zoom on a regular basis. Providing employees with information on how to work with any technology easily is to everyone’s benefit.
“Ask Dr. Ann” is a series of columns in which Dr. S. Ann Earon answers your questions about all things UCC. Do you have a question that you’d like her to consider for her next column? Submit your question(s) here!