Topic / Blog

OMS reviews video chat apps

OMS HQ have researched the main video call platforms to help you work out which one might be the best for you to use. These are great tools to stay connect with friends, family and Circle members.

OMS using Skype to stay connected

 

Which ever app you decide to use, here are some general tips for video calling: 

  1. Make sure everyone has a good internet connection 

  2. Make sure everyone has an account before the meeting

  3. Have a ‘practice run’ before hand with anyone who isn’t particularly tech confident 

  4. Peak times can mean slow speeds 

  5. Most people will start meetings on the hour / half hour so consider starting at quarter past for a better connection


Our global marketing and communications manager Alex has looked into Microsoft Teams and Uberconference.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams will cost you $20 per month 

Account needed? 

Yes, you need an Office 365 account which is pretty easy to join but you need to enter the Microsoft dungeon and sign up is not as straightforward as more basic platforms such as Skype. 

Number of participants

Anywhere between 10 and 10,000 people can join a call.

Accessing Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams offers both a mobile app and a desktop versions.

Staff rating

I would rate Microsoft Teams 2.5/5

Pros

I would recommend this for business users

Cons

Not really the best consumer solution for video chatting 

Uberconference

Uberconference offers a free version which can be used for up to 50 participants and five hours per call. The paid version is $15 per month for up to 100 participants. 

Account needed? 

You will need an account to access Uberconference, but the sign up is really easy.

Number of participants

On a free account, up to 50 users can join one call.

Accessing Uberconference

There is both an app and desktop version. It is very visual and intuitive. I would say using this app is about as straightforward as anything out there. A pin number is required for each participant on the free version.

Staff rating

I would rate Uberconference 4/5

Pros

This service is among the best HD video and audio quality out there.


Kaur, executive assistant to our CEO Gary, has looked into the effectiveness of Zoom and Skype. 

Zoom

Zoom offers a full-featured basic plan for free with unlimited meetings for three or more participants. The basic plan only allows for 40 minutes of video calling.

Accessing Zoom

There is both a mobile and desktop app available for Zoom. The mobile app is available on both iOS or Android devices.

Account needed?

You do not need an account if you are only joining a call. If you wish to host a call you will need to create a free account on the basic plan.

Key features

  • Send group text, images and audio from your device
  • Screen share photos, web, Google Drive, Dropbox directly form your device
  • Easy to invite contacts via phone or email
  • Join meetings as interactive participant or view-only attendee
  • Safe driving mode while on the road
  • Connect with anyone on both mobile devices and desktops 

Number of participants

On the basic free plan, Zoom offers calls for 25 participants.

Staff rating

I would rate Zoom 3/5

Pros

Make large-group video calling easy

Supports lots of callers

Invite participants with a link 

Cons 

Sometimes unstable

Hard to know who drops the call

Skype

Skype specialises in providing video chat and voice calls between computers, tablets, mobiles, Xbox One consoles and smartwatches.

Accessing Skype

To be able to access Skype, you must download either the mobile or desktop app. 

Account needed?

Yes, you can create a free account in order to use Skype.

Key features

  • Instant messaging and chat history
  • Skype to Skype calls are free anywhere in the world 
  • Calls of a duration of up to 110 minutes

Number of participants

You can call up to 50 people in a call at the same time. 

Staff rating

I would rate Skype 3/5

Pros

Service that is incredibly easy to install

Allows for group call without need for group features

Cons

Sound qualities are based on bandwidth

Background noises are picked up easily


Reviewing Google Hangouts is Rachel, our PR manager.

Rachel using Google hangoutsGoogle Hangouts

As an individual and a homeworker, I've found Google Hangouts easy to use for one to one and group meetings. 

You can turn off your microphone and video feed as required, as signposted by the screen icons. I like the facility to manage via calendar invites, present screen’ and share documents and also to live chat.

Account needed?

Hangouts are integrated into Google+ and Gmail, so you do need an account to set up meetings but you can invite external guests.

Key features

  • Free to use
  • Designed to work in the Google Chrome browser with mobile apps also available on iOS and Android
  • If you make a calendar invite, you can choose to add Hangouts as a video conferencing option. Guests then just join the meeting.

Number of participants

You can hold meetings of up to 150 people

Staff rating

I would rate Google Hangouts 4/5


OMS Digital Manager Lucy has looked into Houseparty and Virtual Pub

Houseparty

Houseparty is an easy to use, fun, video conferencing tool designed as a ‘social media’ channel. It feels less like a work tool than some of the other options but for that reason your Circle members are less likely to have used it before (unless they are under 25).

Accessing Houseparty

Apps or desktop: IOS, Mac (Google Chrome extension), Android app, Microsoft PC/laptop.

Start the party (log in). Tells you who is ‘in the house’ (who is logged on). Invite your friends to chat by calling them (you can also wave to them). You can add more people into the ‘room’. Other people can join the room without being invited so make sure you ‘lock’ it. You can set it so that any ‘room’ that you are in is locked. 

Account needed?

Yes - create a quick new profile then you can link with FB contacts, Snapchat and add from phone contacts (however this is a little buggy in my experience).You can also ‘friend’ people by sending them a link with your ID or send them your username.

Key features

  • Free to use
  • No time limit
  • You can play games e.g. Heads Up, trivia and drawing games
  • You can 'buzz' people with the wave emoji to let them know you are up for a chat

Number of participants

Up to eight people at a time. Unlike Skype or Facetime video calls, the Houseparty apps splits the screen equally  between you and the person you are video chatting in your ‘room’.

Staff rating

I would rate Houseparty 3/5

Pros

When it works, it's good

Seems more suitable for a younger audience

Cons

Quality is variable

You can't play games if you are playing on a computer and not a phone

Virtual Pub

Accessing Virtual Pub

On desktop, no login is required. If you are accessing on mobile download the app 'Jitsi Meet'.

Create a ‘pub’ URL and then anyone with that URL and a device can join, it’s as simple as that.

Account needed?

This is a really easy piece of software on a computer. You don’t need to sign up or login, just need to share a link. This makes it easier for people who might not know theri login etc and more accessible for people with less video chat experience. 

Key features

  • Can add password
  • Can raise your hand if you wish to speak
  • Chat functionality
  • Can share a YouTube video or share your screen
  • Free to use

Staff rating

I would rate Virtual Pub 4/5

Pros

A good simple option with a few bells and whistles.


Sophie, Digital Content Officer for OMS, has researched Whatsapp and Facetime

Whatsapp whatsapp

Whatapp is a very popular messaging app which has the ability to also do video calls. 

Accessing Whatsapp

You will have needed to have downloaded the Whatsapp App which is available on both iOS and android. 

Account needed?

When you download the app you create a log in using your mobile number. 

Key features

  • Free to use
  • No time limit
  • Popular, so it is likely other friends or colleagues will already have it downloaded

Number of participants

Only four participants can take part in each call 

Staff rating

I would rate Whatsapp 3/5

Facetime 

Although Facetime is convenient and easily accessible for users with iPhones, Facetime excludes any participants with Android phones.

Accessing Facetime

The Facetime app is already downloaded on any iPhone but you will need to create an Apple ID to use the app.  You can also access Facetime on any other Apple device such as an iPad or Mac computer. 

Key features

  • Free to use
  • No time limit
  • Popular, so it is likely other friends or colleagues will already have it downloaded

Number of participants

You can have up to 32 participants in one call. 

Staff rating

I would rate Facetime 3/5

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Agnes jowett (not verified)

Thanks so much for taking the time to do this. I'd heard of some, but didn't really understand what they are. I'm getting a new laptop soon, and now with your guide, will have some confidence to pick one to try out.

Lucy-OMS

Good to hear Agnes - hope you get on well with them, it is nice to be able to see others during calls! Lucy