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    • People in the tech industry often make bold claims about the future only to later be proven wrong. Steve Ballmer famously said the iPhone would be a flop. When the original Galaxy Note launched, many people said it was "too big", and yet here we are all with phones that house large displays and its thanks to the original Note. And for quite a while now some tech journalists have been toying with the idea that smartphones may not need a front facing camera. This idea has been snuffed out emphatically thanks to the pandemic, with a huge surge in video chats as the world self-isolates at home.

      Many companies that offer video calling services have taken note and have made necessary updates to their apps. WhatsApp doubled its participant limit from 4 to 8 people, while Google updated Duo from 8 group participants to 12. Google also made Google Meet, its enterprise video conferencing tool free for everyone to use. Zoom, arguably the biggest winner in this pandemic, has responded to early criticisms regarding its lack of security and pushed an update to address those issues. Telegram who doesn't even offer video calling in its app has promised to add the feature later this year, saying that "Video calls in 2020 are much like messaging in 2013".

      With so many choices available, which ones have you been using the most?

      Personally I've been using Google Duo. The video quality in Duo calls is so remarkable that I really haven't felt the need to try anything else. This shouldn't be surprising as Google has been working hard to ensure the best possible video quality in its app. I haven't had to join any conference calls for work, so I don't have any "work" recommendations, though I've heard that Microsoft Teams is quite good.

      What about you? How many apps have you used for video calls? Do you use one for personal calls and one for work? Which apps are your favourite?

    • I've been using Zoom - but I kind of fell into it since it is used for most of the (volunteer) meetings and exercise classes that I participate in. I also use it for video calls with my elderly mom and my sister. Mom doesn't use a smart phone and they sit in front of the same computer when I call.

      Google Duo sounds like a good option - thanks for the info! I think I'll try it.

    • Yep, Duo is pretty good for video, but not many people know about it, and it has no group video call for the web. I would guess most of iFolks use Facetime. Business use is a whole different ball game, Zoom is the rising star there, most of my business calls are on it. Internally we also use Slack for video calls. Although Slack is technically and feature-wise rather poor when it comes to video, we use it extensively for quick written communication, so it's easy to hop on.

    • I've probably used a dozen, depending on who initiated the call. I've had great experiences with Blue Jeans, Amazon Chime, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, Google Meet, YouTube Live and Skype.

      My bad experiences have come with Slack. It just seems to drop or malfunction in some other way.

      My horrid, shocking experiences all came from Zoom. Last week I spoke virtually at an event sponsored by Samsung and we got zoom bombed with drawings of penuses, photos of gross naked fat men, flooding of the chat channel with horrible epithets, etc. Samsung had a dozen moderators trying to keep it under control, but they couldn't.

      On top of that, sometimes when I advanced my slides zoom would notice and half the time it would display the current slide on my monitor but not on others.

      There is some justification to consider Zoom malware:

    • Someone wisely noticed that 'every easy-to-use enterprise software is undistinguishable from malware'. When Zoom was in their growth hacking phase (basically from the start up to last few months), they cut a lot of corners in order to survive and gain market share. Finally, they made it, and became a verb ('let's zoom') and now they need to make amends for the sins committed in getting there.

      But, truth be told, they are handling it very well. They don't deny but admit errors, and move fast to correct them. Whomever is doing crisis management over there is doing a hell of a job, IMHO.

    • Hearing about zoom bombing made me move away from zoom. We use Google Hangouts now at work (though yes a few “outside” people are still using zoom)

      I have used Blue Jeans too - I have taught with it - even using it to lecture to China - and it’s a bit more cumbersome to set up but does work fairly well.

    • It's not really a choice for me because it depends on the participants. In these past few months I end up using all sorts of video calling apps.

      My main job requires me to use Google Meets for meetings. My secondary job uses Microsoft Teams. Some professional bodies that I join uses Webex and Zoom for meetings. Webinar that I join mostly uses Webex, Zoom or GoToWebinar. GoToWebinar is really good for webinar because the host has control to not let new participants turn on their mic. I once had an interview via skype too.

      Google Meets is very lacking in features like "raise hand" and "poll", and the chat system is too basic. Teams has the best chat interface, with animated stickers and gif support, and members can "like" a comment which is useful for meetings. Sadly Teams is sort of invite only system. Webex has the benefit of not needing to create an account to join. Zoom is pretty cool but the recent scandal doesn't inspire confidence in the security.

      For personal use, my family prefer using whatsapp video call, some extended family prefer facebook messenger video call. The later is quite fun especially with kids, there are interactive games which are quite silly but fun. There's one that adds a virtual unicorn horn on your head, and rings will fall from the top, you move your head around trying to collect rings on your horn.

    • one that adds a virtual unicorn horn on your head, and rings will fall from the top, you move your head around trying to collect rings on your horn.

      I would love to try it but some of the parents in our family won't let their kids on Facebook. I can't even post photos of their kids on Facebook. (They fun Flickr and feel they know too much about what happens to children online without great safeguards.)

      But the kids love FaceTime and we all have iPhones, so stickers and Animojis galore. The parents are happy because end-to-end encryption.