Video is everywhere these days, although most of it seems to be showing up on social media feeds. Business owners who want to conduct a conference with the aid of video may have to do some searching to find good video conferencing, especially at no cost – but it is out there. We’ve compiled a comparison of a five of the top free video conferencing services that work for businesses.
- Skype: The biggest name in free video conferencing, Skype has huge reach. You can Skype through Windows, OS, Blackberry, iOS, Android, even game consoles like PlayStation Vita and Xbox One. Skype offers free group video conferencing for up to ten users (this was previously only available to “Premium” members) as well as a slew of other features.Pros of Skype include the ability to instant message, file share, and share your desktop screen during a video conference. Negatives include the need to download dedicated software and the sometimes-complicated interface, depending on that device it’s being used from.
- Google Hangouts: One of the fastest growing video conferencing services. Google Hangouts is web-based and compatible with most browsers. You will need to add a plugin (which is free) to your browser, but it won’t ask you to download and install software. It’s also iOS and Android compatible.The pluses of this service include easy setup and use and offers features like screen sharing as well as remote desktop access. Because so many people use Google, it’s easy to connect to other users. The biggest negative is that it doesn’t work with Blackberry or Windows phones or tablets.
- FaceTime: FaceTime is an Apple service, and works with MacOS and iOS only. Currently, the only supports one-to-one video chats, but it appears that iOS8 and OS X Yosemite will enable group conferences. The service also doesn’t include features like screen sharing.FaceTime is easy to use if you are an Apple user – just register your phone number or email, and you can find others, and the video quality is typically very good. However, the inability to video conference with more than one other person and the lack of features make this a poor choice for business users.
- Cisco WebEx: Although the main product is $49 per month, there is a free version available that’s limited to a three-person meeting. This service is browser-based, and supports iOS, BlackBerry, and Android devices.While WebEx doesn’t have the most features, it has an excellent performance record. The service won’t ask you to install add-ons or applications, and doesn’t experience glitches during a meeting. WebEx also comes with terrific mobile support.
- Oovoo: Oovoo works with Windows, OS, iOS, Android, and through Facebook (via an app that allows you to join a chat from the Web.)Oovoo markets itself as a social service, but it does include features that business owners can make good use of in meetings: file sharing, group video chats for up to 12 people, free voice calls to any phone, and screen sharing. You can also record calls directly to YouTube. A free version is ad-supported, or you can upgrade to premium for $2.99 per month.