Coronavirus has forced a lot of people to explore means by which to keep in touch with contacts the cheap way. Two of the most popular applications used among people to keep in touch are Google Hangouts and Zoom. Governments around the world are imposing lockdowns in an attempt to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, and that has mandated a lot of people to keep in touch through remote means instead of face-to-face meetings.
A Brief Note
Reading this article, you might also be contemplating which platform to use to keep in touch with your friends, loved ones and colleagues. This article discusses two of the most prominent remote communication platforms in the world today. It further explains the differences between Google Hangouts and Zoom, making it easier for you to decide on which is best for your day-to-day audio or video communications needs, or for business purposes.
There are many other remote communication apps people can use. However, the focus of an article is on Google Hangouts and zoom only. We will study the strength and weaknesses of both applications so you know what to expect from each.
2013 was the year Google launched Hangouts for free use. It is not as if this was the year Google started offering video and audio or messaging services for free. All the free services existed in three separate packages prior to 2013. For example, Google Talk was meant for calls, Google Plus Messenger was meant for text chat, and then Google Plus Hangouts was meant for video communications. In the new Google Hangouts application, all three services are combined and offered simultaneously and even goes further to include group calls.
Google is the developer and owner of one of the best speech-to-text Technologies in the world today. And that feature has been embedded in the Google Hangouts meet for business so that uses can see a real-time captioning of meetings import audio or video settings. This is a particularly good feature for people who have problems hearing what is being said.
Hangouts is an application provided by the Tech giant Google for the purpose of the video, audio and messaging Communications between two or more people. It is free to use. To start a video call or invite someone to a group video or audio call you must have a Google account. But to join a call you do not need a Google account. Just the ordinary Gmail account you know will work. You can invite up to 150 people to an audio chat, but for a video group-chat, the maximum number of participants you can invite is 25 including you.
The Business Version
The Google Hangouts has a business version known as Google Hangouts Meet or just Google Meet. Google meet has several features that make it more suitable for business use. To get access to the business version of Google Hangouts you must have an active G-suit account by subscribing to one of several plans provided by Google.
Typically, free users do not have access to most of the features in Google Hangouts Meet. Due to the effect of coronavirus on individual and business incomes, Google decided to cut users some slack by providing some premium features in the business version of Google Hangouts for free. But this Google generous offer is only for a limited time, until September 30th 2020.
Using Google Hangouts
You can always use the Google Hangouts application through your Gmail account or a Chrome browser add-on, from a web browser like Firefox, all through to Hangouts applications for Android or Apple and even the desktop version.
To use Hangouts from your Gmail account, sign-in and at the left hand side of the screen towards the bottom, you will see the Hangouts option which you can click to select from a list of contact you have or search by the name or email addresses and then peach them an invite to join you on Hangouts or if they are already on Hangouts, send them a message and wait for their response to begin chatting. There are the audio and video icons clearly visible on the application for you to click and start a chat with a group or a person.
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Just like Google Hangouts, Zoom too was launched in 2013. But it didn’t gain traction until 2017 when it started gaining rapid popularity. By 2019 there were millions of users around the world, and that number has multiplied with the appearance of the novel coronavirus. CNBC news reported that from January 2020 till June 2020 zoom recorded daily increase in active users by 67%.
The Zoom Meeting video and audio conferencing application are compatible with pretty much all of the major operating systems in use today. There is a zoom meeting application for each major operating system including, iOS Android, Mac, Windows, and Linux. You can host up to 100 participants with the free basic plan of Zoom meeting for a video or audio chat meeting. There are also paid plans for small businesses and large Enterprises.
Paid plans for Zoom Meeting starts from $14.99 per user per month right up to $200 per month per user. There are plans for the Zoom Meeting platform that can accommodate up to 1000 participant at a time for a video or audio meeting. And while having a video conference meeting with participants using the Zoom Meeting platform you can see up to 49 participants shown in a gallery-style view of 5X5 size each on your computer screen.
Zoom also has high definition video and audio capability which makes it very suitable for business users. It also leverages a collaboration tool for screen sharing between participants, where everyone can see what a particular person is doing on the screen. Screen sharing is a highly valuable feature for companies and organizations because it makes a lot of things easier like describing a process on a computer to other participants. The participant will see your own computer screen, like clicking folders or menus of applications.
You can also record all your meetings whether audio or video and also retrieve a transcript of it. From zoom to Outlook Microsoft Skype for business and Google meet all have the capability to let you schedule a meeting for a future date.
Security and Privacy
While Zoom is one of the best applications for free video and audio conferencing, there are also security measures you need to take, because zoom had several issues with securing user data and privacy in the past. Some security challenges the Zoom faced in the past even prompted the Department of Education for New York City to cautioned teachers against using Zoom Meeting application. The department recommended for teachers to use Microsoft teams instead of better protection of privacy.
There is a feature in a zoom that allows you to hold a meeting without compromising on privacy or security. You can generate a unique ID with a password for each meeting such that every participant must provide the password before being allowed to join the meeting. There is also a waiting room where every participant will be before you allow them to join the meeting. This is a very important function for large organizations and businesses where some meetings may require the participation of only a select few of the staff.
Differences Between Zoom and Google Hangouts
Despite the fact that both Google Hangouts and zoom application provide similar services of video and audio conferencing there’s still a big difference between the two which I will outline below. If you want to use the application for business or for your organization or government, then there are certain features that make Zoom the better option for you to do this. However, it depends on the size of your business and the features you would like to use during such video and audio conference meetings.
Maximum Number of Participants
The biggest difference between Zoom and Google Hangouts is the maximum number of active participants that can be accommodated in a single meeting. for zoom, it is up to 1000 people. So if your organization has many people you like to hold a meeting with from time to time or regularly then, it appears that zoom could be the better option though Hangouts too support up to 150 people, but strictly for messaging.
The maximum number for audio or video conferencing in Google Hangouts is just 25 people. But if you have up to 25 or more people to hold meetings with and your company is a growing, Zoom will certainly be a better option. If you end up going for the wrong platform, it means you’re probably going to regret the decision in the long run. The free Zoom application allows you to hold a meeting of audio or video conferencing with up to 100 participants. In fact, Zoom can accommodate up to 1000 people in a video or audio meeting depending on the plan you paid for.
Zoom meeting and Google Hangouts also differ when it comes to cost. The least plan for Zoom meeting begins at roughly $15 per user per month, while that of Google Hangouts begins at $6 per user per month, that is, if you’re using Google Hangouts meeting. The former is more expensive. And if you are video or audio conferencing it does not exceed 25 people in a meeting, then Google Hangouts meet is clearly the better option.
Google Hangouts and Zoom also differ in complexity due to the enormous features available in Zoom makes the application a little overwhelming for many people. Google Hangouts, on the other hand, has a simpler design with fewer features and settings. But the additional features in zoom have their own advantages because they let you enjoy a diverse range of services that aren’t available in the Google Hangouts Meet.
Finally, both platforms are good for daily communications via video, audio, or messaging chats. Which one to choose as a private user requires consideration of the number of contacts using each platform, how much you are willing to spend on data, and the ease with which you want to use each. There are other factors to consider, but the ones discussed in this article are probably the most important.
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The more you understand yourself, the more silence there is, the healthier you are. —Maxime Lagacé