Currently, about one-third of the world is forced to stay in their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and they are forced to turn into technology to stay connected. One of the top choices for staying connected is Zoom, but of late, there has been a question of how safe it is really is, which is making most people search for better alternatives.
Zoom recently hired high-profile security experts to try and combat Zoombombing. It has also released new updates as different governments continue to ban the use of Zoom in government meetings due to security reasons. You don’t have to panic, though. Several alternatives offer options for everything from socializing with friends to private business meetings.
Skype launched in the early 2000s, and it has been one of the most used video-conferencing apps in the world in the last two decades. If coronavirus had struck about ten years ago, there is no doubt that Skype would have been the app of choice for almost everybody.
However, since Microsoft acquired it in 2011, its reliability and utility have slipped behind competitors, and most users have been seeking alternatives. But since it is a familiar option and it is still good, you can still use it for basic group chats and video calls.
Signal is quite secure if Edward Snowden himself, a whistle-blower and privacy advocate, can rely on it to communicate securely online. In fact, it is considered as one of the most secure private messaging apps, and it also allows encrypted video chats using its open source Signal Protocol technology.
However, there are some limitations since it has not achieved mainstream success, and you cannot use it to make group video calls. The app is available for free on Android and iOS. Please note that the app doesn’t support desktop video calls.
WhatsApp is by far the most popular messaging app in the world, and in 2018 it introduced group video calls for free to all users. For friends and family calls, this is probably the most convenient option. The only downside is that only four people can take part in its encrypted video call at a time.
There are also many useful features included in the WhatsApp’s video chat function, like adding people mid-call and hiding your video feed from other video call participants.
HouseParty is quickly becoming the best option for family and friends looking to play games and have fun. It is free and easy to use, plus it offers a wide selection of interactive games that are excellent for pairs and groups, ranging from trivia to charades.
However, its sudden popularity has led to the same problems being faced by Zoom, with some people playing games with their friends being bombarded by new members out of the blue. Fiddling with the settings of the app has been a remedy to most of the problems, plus there are features like “sneak in,” which allows you to open the app without all your friends getting notified.
#5: Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams was initially built as a competitor for Slack, but now it has risen to a state that it supports almost everything from video conferencing to PowerPoint presentations to groups of up to 10,000 people.
This platform integrates Office 365, which makes sharing of Word, Excel, and other Office apps seamless. Its video functionality can support up to 250 people simultaneously. It is an excellent alternative for Zoom, and a lot of people are turning into it. Due to the security issues plaguing Zoom, Microsoft has made a point in recent weeks to publicize the privacy credentials of Teams.
Blog posts assuring how it handles user data, stating: “Far from an afterthought, privacy is deeply ingrained in our company philosophy and how we build products.”
Microsoft Teams is free for anyone with an Office 365 subscription but a free version is also available to rest of the public, making it perhaps the best business alternative to Zoom so far.