Blog N° 5
Video conferencing softwares.
The large number of video conferencing platforms today offer different solutions. Using Apps that can be downloaded directly from the websites of the platforms you have chosen to use on your device. Using plug and play video conferencing software (i.e., you can plug in a device and it works immediately without having to download additional software or programs) allows you to make calls and sometimes automatically optimise the screen and sound.
Essential video conferencing software features
HD video and voice Being able to see and hear other participants clearly is essential for running a videoconference. Any software you consider should offer high quality voice and video. Although not all internet connections will be able to handle this, having the option available is essential for those who do.Most video conferencing tools nowadays offer HD audio and video, regardless of price. However, you may still come across a videoconferencing solution that only offers SD quality for free.Video quality may not be that important, but audio quality absolutely is.This is also true for a dance class where the vocal explanations or the transmission of music must be clear otherwise they become a disturbing element. Of course it is desirable to have high definition for both video and audio.
Collaboration tools are a must if you are going to give or participate in presentations. Among a few important collaboration tools to consider are:
Screen sharing with co-annotations.
Remote keyboard and mouse control.
No matter what field you are in, screen sharing will come in handy at some point. Rather than sending materials before a meeting and hoping everyone has the right programs to access them, you can simply show them what you're looking at.
Functions like these will make the meeting more lively and allow you to better demonstrate your point. Supports multiple devices.
Even during a dance seminar, screen sharing can be an enriching element. For example by highlighting specific muscle bands on an anatomical model.
Support for multiple devices
Not everyone will have access to the same type of device. Some people will use a Mac, others a Windows PC, and still others an Android device or an iPhone. A good videoconferencing solution should support different types of devices and operating systems, ensuring that anyone organising a meeting can access it.
Integrations with other software
Another thing you might want to pay attention to is integrations - that is, other software that the videoconferencing application works with out of the box.
Many videoconferencing solutions today support hundreds of applications - however, the sheer number of integrations is not important.
Instead, you should make sure that your videoconferencing app supports the software solutions you need. If you need to work through Word, then your app should work with it without any problems.
This factors into the above feature, but is worth noting on its own. Any video conferencing platform should give you the ability to schedule meetings. Ideally, you want to be able to send those invites through your other tools. That could be Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendar.
You might think of analytics as something applied to external communication, but it’s useful for internal communication, too. Many software packages include meeting analytics, letting you monitor service quality in real-time. This is a great way to pinpoint problem areas and connections, in order to streamline meeting experiences. You can also track the adoption and use of the software through multiple departments, and keep an eye on overall system performance.
Call recording and transcriptions
With the increased participation rates that online meetings can bring, there are still people who get lost. Recording meetings allows you to share content quickly and easily, keeping people up to date. Chances are, if you're looking for a free video conferencing tool, you won't be recording your meetings. But this is still quite an important feature.
Apart from the ability to record meetings itself, pay attention to how the recording is stored. Some platforms provide a limited amount of cloud storage, while others only allow you to save the file locally.
Transcription has similar benefits, especially in combination with artificial intelligence that enables real-time transcription. This way, there is no need to worry about taking notes for meetings, but you can expect an automatic summary email.
Of these two features, call recording is more common and less expensive. We might expect to see transcription increase in popularity as the field of natural language processing develops further, but it's definitely a more expensive choice right now.
Web browser access
If you’re only looking at internal communication, it’s fine to have a solution that requires downloading software. Video conferencing apps are common, especially on mobile devices. However, for communication with clients, suppliers, or customers, you want an option that doesn’t require any extra effort on their end.
Many video conferencing software solutions have in-browser options available. These usually have fewer features. The plus side, though, is that anyone can join the call through a link, meeting ID, or invite, without needing any particular programs installed
Limits of participants, feed and time
Limit of participants
Next, consider the limit of participants.
This limit can vary greatly from tool to tool - some free videoconferencing solutions only allow up to 3 participants, while others offer up to 500!
Video feed limit
Another thing to pay attention to is the video feed limit. This specification shows how many simultaneous webcam streams the application supports.
The video feed limit is distinct from the participant limit - also, in free video conferencing software, the video feed limit is almost always lower than the participant limit.
So if you see that a videoconferencing solution allows up to, say, 75 participants, don't assume that the app will also allow 75 simultaneous webcam feeds.
Meeting duration limit
Many video conferencing tools impose limits on meeting duration in their free plans. The best example of this is Zoom with its 40-minute limit for group meetings.
For many people, the meeting duration limit is what matters most.
And although it is possible to start another meeting immediately after the end of the previous one, duration limits pose some inconvenience.
We’ve all been in video calls where someone forgets to mute their microphone before walking away to do something. Moderator tools allow the host to mute other people (what a relief!), choose who can access whiteboards and screen sharing, and even put attendees on hold.
Other features that admins can provide and remove access to include:
Not all of these functions are important for a dance class, but some of them have characterised most seminars but also dance rehearsals.
One of these is the breakout rooms, which allowed participants to work in small groups, duos or solo in separate virtual rooms, where the hosts could move freely from one room to another, to help and control the work.
Ideally, you would like to have end-to-end encryption.
With end-to-end encryption, video content and messages are encrypted on participants' devices, making interception almost impossible.
This is in contrast to in-transit encryption, where the encryption takes place on an intermediate server. Many tools support end-to-end encryption, but some require it to be activated manually. This is the case with Zoom and Skype, for instance, where end-to-end encryption must be manually activated.
Apart from end-to-end encryption, the TLS and AES 256-bit encryption protocols are also nice to have, even if the encryption is done in transit.
But if you're going to share super-secret meeting information, end-to-end encryption is a must, in our opinion.
Nobody wants their meeting to be interrupted by strangers, so you need to look for a solution with excellent security. This security can come in many forms: having to enter an ID or PIN for the meeting, a single sign-on option, providing participants with passwords or simply having the host approve requests to participate.
Of course, security goes beyond access to video meetings, and also covers the way these meetings are transmitted.
Although our focus today is on the best free video conferencing app, you shouldn't overlook the price. If you want an online meeting app for business use, then you may need to upgrade to paid plans sooner or later.
Advanced features come at a price, so you need to weigh the features you want against your budget. Many of the solutions we describe have limited free plans, but these are often lacking in more complex features. This is where the separation between "must-have" and "nice-to-have" comes in.
Be sure to read up on exactly how the prices work, too. Some software has a set licence price per user, with unlimited minutes. Other paid plans have a maximum limit on minutes, and charge extra for anything beyond that. It's not as simple as looking for the one with the lowest cost per user, so make sure you take into account everything you need.