Updated: Aug 19, 2021
With Circuit Breaker measures implemented, we have now transitioned to socialising and spending time with friends and family online. If you haven’t tried these, here are some teleconferencing software that can help you with your business and also keep in touch with your loved ones safely.
BlueJeans is a paid software but you can try it for free. The interface is pretty clean and simple but the service provided by Bluejeans is quite comprehensive. You can chat, create chat groups, collaborate on a whiteboard, host video conference and even host large scale webinars, and stream it live directly to Facebook.
You can also invite users that are not subscribed to BlueJeans to participate in your conferences. Participants can easily access the conferences through a browser but those who are on a smartphone can only join via their app.
When we tested it, the video stream seemed a little laggy when we shared our screens, the webcam video quality also seems quite low by default and there is no way to manually tweak its quality. The plus side is that you can annotate on the screen that you share. If you have patchy internet, you have the option to dial in via a Singapore number for your conference calls.
The second option is feature-packed and it’s free to use. No wonder Zoom is one of the most widely used teleconferencing software. It has your usual voice chat, video chat, whiteboard and messaging. Using the messaging function, you can also create a channel where you can invite multiple users to be on.
In the chat group, it also allows you to search for past messages. When teleconferencing, multiple users can share their screens and also directly share files from some of the popular cloud storage services like Google Drive, One Drive, Dropbox, Box or just share files that are stored on your computer. If you have a messy background to deal with, you can choose Virtual background and beauty mode.
You can also assign everyone into smaller groups for more in-depth discussions and bring everyone back into the main group when you need it. The Free plan can already do a lot but the only downside is that it limits each call to 45mins. For a fee, you can even hold large webinars, record those sessions to cloud and have access to many other additional features but these features seem more suited for large companies.
Recently, there are controversies surrounding Zoom with regards to security, hacking and personal data protection. So do get yourself updated with the latest development before jumping in.
When you first log in to Microsoft Teams, it feels like a messaging app. But when you examine it closely, it can do a lot more. Other than the usual voice and video calls, you can also share your screen or just a specific window.
One interesting feature is that you can add tabs to your chat so that you can easily access and share these with your group. You can also add your common office apps like Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint so everyone can work on it.
There are a few cool features. The live captioning function basically does what its name says. This is especially useful when you don’t have access to a good pair of headphones or you are outside in a noisy environment. During video calls, you can also blur out your background so your home environment won’t be shown. Microsoft Teams will be included in the new Microsoft 365 subscription, a home for all your common office tools.
If you are looking for something simple just for teleconferencing, Google Hangout Meet may be the easiest to use. It is part of Google Suite, a paid subscription service, and has features like screen sharing, live captioning and also a chat function. The service can launch via a browser but for mobile users, you will need to use the app.
To join a meeting, you will need to have a Google account. Hangout Meet is a very simple service to use but it is lacking in features. That said, there are other apps that are part of Google Suite that you can incorporate to make up for the lack of features in Hangout Meet.
One app is Hangout Chat. This is basically a chat app where you can create rooms to house your participants and in these chat rooms, you can create multiple threads to house different conversations. You can also add bots into your threads to help you manage things like attendance, invitations and many more. If you have a basic Google account, you only have access to Hangout, while Hangout Meet and Hangout Chat are only available for paid Google Suite accounts.
If you are in the business of running large scale webinars, Clickmeeting may be the software for you. It has a highly customisable invitation page and you have full control over what your audience shares. You can chat with them, watch a youtube video together, create Q&A sessions and even a live survey for your audience.
You basically have full control of what you want to share just by accessing the panel on the left. The participants that you invite can choose not to sign up and they can also choose to access your webinar via a browser. Unfortunately, this is a paid service but you can try it out free for 7 days.
We might be staying home to do our part in preventing further community spread, but that doesn’t mean we are unable to socialise with our friends, family and colleagues. These utility of these apps are versatile and suit a wide range of needs.