By Melvin Day, Marketing Moves CEO
For obvious reasons, a lot of people will be working from home this week – some potentially for the first time.
At Marketing Moves, we’ve been working fairly flexibly across the UK and wider world for several years now. In doing so, we’ve used most of the professional and personal video calling options – often with surprising results.
This guide is our attempt to share our experience with you of the most easily-accessible video calling software. Obviously, a key factor is a good internet connection – whether from a router or 4G / 5G.
So without further ado, here’s a quick roundup of the best video-calling options.
Best for Business – Audio
If you need to speak to clients, suppliers or similar, the go-to professional video-calling software is Skype. A bit like buying IBM, no one is going to risk ridicule by suggesting a call on it. Bought by Microsoft for $8.5billion in 2011, it was the early pioneer in free video calling. Some might argue that post acquisition it has somewhat lost its way, bizarrely trying to add features to its smartphone app that really belonged to Snapchat and Snapchat only. Bunny ears anyone?
You can have multiple people on a Skype video call but in our experience it can result in audio being delayed. Turning video off and just focusing on audio goes some way to fixing the problem, but might be cutting out the very reason you need to video call for. Even if you do, digital sounds which belong in The Matrix are still fairly frequent.
Logging in can also be a pain, as you have to go through the main Microsoft portal, and no one remembers their password to that. Finding people can be problematic too, as it’s quite confusing whether you need their name, username, email or number. In summary, good on the whole once you’re in, but far from perfect at the start and never quite gives you everything you want.
Best for Business – Video / Screen Sharing
If you do need to share screens and see each other, Google Hangouts is a better option than Skype in our opinion. The software automatically directs screens to who is speaking, and you can show others what you can see on your computer fairly easily.
Logging in is easy as it’s Google, as is sharing the URL of the call or inviting people directly. As with Skype, it’s not perfect. There’s often a lag but audio is decent most of the time.
Best for Colleagues
Most of us have the mobile numbers of colleagues, in which case Whatsapp video calls are possible. There’s a catch though as you can only have two people on a video call, although you can have multiple on an audio call.
However, you can’t do a Whatsapp video call from your desktop, you can only do it from the app on your phone – which means you can’t share screens. If you only need two way video or multiple audio, this would be our choice so far – it’s almost always a high quality video feed or audio call. Our Australia and USA offices use this for their weekly video call.
Best for Family
FaceTime from Apple seems to be the go-to for video calling between families – something to do with iPads perhaps. If you have an Apple MacBook or iMac you can use it from a desktop, but apart from that it’s the same as Whatsapp – essentially a phone-to-phone video calling device. You can use audio too but can’t create a group.
Best for Friends
The absolute daddy of video calling in our experience is Facebook. You need to be friends with the other person, which is why it’s not for everyone. But if you are, there is no better platform for quality of either audio or video. Which is what you would expect from one of the world’s biggest companies. You can use both smartphone app or desktop, but no group facility. We use this to video call our office in Australia and we very rarely have any problems at all.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our roundup of the most accessible video calling software. After these big five there are literally hundreds of other options – some of which we’ve also used in recent years. Whilst many are popular in their own right such as Blue Jeans, Zoom, Webex or Amazon, this guide is designed to discuss the most accessible options today – which is why they haven’t made the list this time. Perhaps they will if Covid-20 hits.
To discuss in confidence how Marketing Moves can support your organisation’s growth, please contact Melvin by any of the means below.