Zoom video conferencing has faced some heavy criticism during the last months.
From questionable security practices to mistakes that could put personal information at risk. From their end-to-end encryption to Zoom Bombing (and even mistakes made by some users) their popularity has been seriously affected during these past couples of months.
At the same time, the company grew to become the most used video chat app in the world its vulnerabilities started making the headlines. And just like with other companies that have found themselves in precarious situations, right now it seems that people are waiting in line for an opportunity to strike them.
Zoom security issues are being addressed as they arise. Eric Yuan, founder, and CEO of Zoom has admitted their mistakes and acknowledged that they were unable to handle the speed at which everything happened.
“We moved too fast… and we had some missteps. We’ve learned our lessons and we’ve taken a step back to focus on privacy and security.” Eric said during an interview with CNN.
As they work on improving their security and privacy issues, the rest of the world can’t just stop and wait for the solution. So in the meantime, or even if you’re not interested in using their app again, there are a few video chat alternatives that you can start using right away.
Skype Meet Now
Microsoft’s popular platform, Skype, is very well known and has been around for quite some time now. This powerful platform offers a lot of the features that you would expect from such an app and even more with their paid plans.
Skype’s free plan supports up to 50 participants for an unlimited amount of time, including full functionality as a messaging app, and managing and controlling who can attend a meeting is pretty easy. Their call recording feature allows users to save and share a meeting after it’s been held.
Overall, Skype is a great and stable app backed up by giant Microsoft. The only downside is that even though calls are encrypted, they have still not implemented end-to-end encryption, so for calls in which sensitive information is going to be shared it might be better to use a different app.
This is a great alternative to Zoom. Apple’s FaceTime has also been around for quite a while, but like other apps in the Apple ecosystem, it is only available to people with access to Apple devices.
This is a very stable platform that allows users to add multiple people to a video chat. At the same time, it provides users with strong end-to-end encryption. This means that the only people that could be able to view your chats are you, and the one you’re communicating with.
Not even Apple could have access to your conversations and shared data unless they had physical access to your phone. This makes FaceTime a sweet alternative in terms of privacy and security.
To achieve this, apple uses AES-256 encryption, which is pretty strong. This encryption is potentially unbreakable even if someone does manage to intercept the data. Although no issue has been reported yet, time will tell whether Apple implemented it correctly.
Signal offers a great alternative in terms of security. This open-source app has already a good share of followers due to their strong privacy and security features and availability on different devices.
What makes it a really attractive alternative is its open-source code. This means that the code is publicly available so there is always transparency and any issue can be easily found by its users. But often, apps that are this secure come with a downside. Lack of functionality.
It is a great and secure video chat app and could be considered more of a WhatsApp alternative, you can text, share files, make calls and video calls. However, there is no support for group chats.
Just like FaceTime, Signal makes use of end-to-end encryption to send and receive data, however, due to the lack of video conferencing support, this is more suitable for a one-to-one conversation.
Another one from Microsoft. Microsoft Teams is a business-focused platform that offers video meetings for those using Office 365. According to Microsoft it “enforces team-wide and organization-wide two-factor authentication, single sign-on through Active Directory, and encryption of data in transit and at rest.”
Although its main focus is businesses, Teams are also available for free. Of course, paying for an Office 365 subscription will also bring you a lot of other benefits.
The free version allows up to 300 members, screen sharing, meeting notes, surveys and polls, whiteboard and share file up to 10GB per team. That is a lot to offer for a free plan, and business plans offer even more, including file-sharing of up to 1TB.
Cisco is a very well known name in the networking industry mainly due to its hardware.
Their video conferencing platform is pretty strong and reliable, but their pricing strategy might not make it suitable for some companies or individuals.
The platform itself is easy to use and can be used through a browser without you having to download and install the app. The free version offers meetings with up to 100 participants and no time limit. There’s also HD video, screen-sharing, and recording options.
The paid plans, however, are pricier than the other options in this list. Prices start at $13.50/host per month. Their business plan starts at $26.95/month and the Enterprise plan is priced upon request.
Cisco Webex paid plans to offer additional cloud storage and more advanced management features than the free plan. Although this is a great tool for small and medium businesses, their prices might not be suitable for everyone, especially if it is for personal use.
Which Video Chat App Is Right For You?
Although each app basically serves the same purpose there are some differences that set them apart. Each has its own benefits and its own limitations and making the right choice will greatly depend on your specific needs. For the casual user and even for some business users, free options are more than good enough.