Just as it seemed like the entire world was jumping on the Zoom bandwagon, we discovered the popular video conferencing app has a dark side. From leaking user information to lax security features, the company has faced intense criticism and even suffered attacks from unwanted visitors.
It's true the company has apologized, and has already taken some steps to better protect user privacy. Still, it's understandable if you're not sure whether you're comfortable putting your meetings at risk.
With that in mind, here are a few options you might consider instead--all of which are offering enhanced free versions during the coronavirus pandemic:
Microsoft's collaboration and videoconferencing tool, Teams, saw its growth skyrocket over the past few weeks. The company said it had seen 12 million new users in the week that followed the first statewide shutdowns. It's also gone out of its way to point out that it takes user security seriously, which makes sense considering the company's software tends to be used by larger, more security-conscious enterprises.
Teams is available with Microsoft 365, the monthly subscription that starts at $5 per month, per user, and includes the company's productivity suite. It's worth mentioning that while Teams is Microsoft's business option for video meetings, it still offers Skype for personal use.
Google Hangouts Meet
Google isn't exactly known for coming up with names that roll off the tongue. Like the Google Nest Home Max, for example. The same is true with the company's collaboration and video chat tool, Hangouts Meet. Still, if you're a G Suite user, it's included in your $6 per month subscription.
It's a little less intuitive than Zoom, but it doesn't require you to download any software. There's also the fact that Google doesn't exactly have a stellar reputation for being on top of protecting user privacy either. It also uses the same encryption standard as Zoom, which isn't end-to-end. It does, however, allow you to use longer meeting IDs, making them harder to guess (and crash).
Slack isn't a videoconferencing tool, but it does have video calling built-in. To be honest, the video calling feature isn't quite as robust as Zoom's or other dedicated videoconferencing tools. However, if you are primarily meeting with members of your team, it's worth checking out. The company even introduced an integration with Microsoft Teams, meaning it's one of the more versatile options on this list.
GoToMeeting has been around for a while, and while it's not quite as simple as Zoom, it offers a variety of security features. For example, in addition to using passwords, meeting hosts can also use meeting lock to keep out unwanted guests. GoToMeeting also does not include an attention tracking feature (Zoom has come under criticism for tracking what users are doing on their screen.)
Like GoToMeeting, WebEx includes the ability to lock your meeting room, preventing unwanted guests from dropping in and disrupting things. It also allows for fully encrypted meetings, including your recordings. During the Covid-19 outbreak, WebEx has extended its free plan to include unlimited meetings with up to 100 participants.