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July 30, 2013

The Best Video Conferencing Options for Business

Running a business often used to mean being at two places at once. While that may be a bit of an exaggeration, that’s how owning and managing a business felt a few years back. You have so many things on your plate that, sometimes, it starts to feel like there aren’t enough hours in a day.

The Power of the Internet

Fast forward to today and things are different. In fact, things got better and easier. Gone are the days when holding a meeting meant scheduling it days beforehand, sending the memo or invite, prepping up the conference room, making coffee or tea, preparing the projector or the white board, and assembling the agreed upon date and venue. Today, holding a meeting means turning on your desktop or mobile device and holding a video conference online.

The Power of VoIP

Yes, VoIP services have made it possible for millions of users to hold video conferencing anytime, anywhere. All you need is a reliable Internet connection and a computer. Because of this technological advancement, the need for bulky and costly analog devices is eliminated. Geography and distance are also no longer an issue. If you need to speak to someone from overseas, just power up your computer and connect to the Internet.

In the world of video conferencing, there are three major players: Skype, Google+ Hangouts, and FaceTime.

Skype — You know that something’s quite popular if the brand name itself has become a verb. Take Google for example. It started out as a search engine. But its popularity has led to its permutation to a verb. Want to find anything online? Just “Google” it. The same can be said about Skype. Before, it was merely a program that allows you to video chat with someone else. Today though, whenever you want to video chat with someone, you just say “Let’s Skype.”

What makes Skype very appealing to a multitude of users is its versatility. It can run on almost any device and it works on multiple operating systems: iOS, Android and Windows. And, despite the fact that it allows you to make voice and video calls, chat, and share files with other users, it’s free. If you want to do more, just sign up for Skype Premium for $50 a year.

Google+ Hangouts — Proving that it’s indeed the biggest tech business in the world today, Google also delved into the video conferencing business with its Google+ Hangouts. To enjoy this free service, simply sign up with Google+ and install the required plug-in to your browser of choice. Like Skype, it also works with multiple devices and operating systems. The only thing that makes Hangouts different from Skype is that it allows you to upload or stream your video conference to YouTube, and it allows up to 10 people in a video conference for free.

FaceTime — FaceTime is Apple’s answer to Skype and Hangouts. But as good as Apple’s intention was in creating this kind of service, FaceTime is only available to Apple users as it only works with Apple devices. This exclusivity that Apple is implementing is definitely hurting FaceTime’s potential to become better than Skype or Hangouts. And if versatility and reach are important to you, FaceTime may not be the best choice.

Henry Conrad is a 29-year-old game developer from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Aside from gaming and being a tech junky, he also dabbles in creative writing, which allows him to create great storylines and backgrounds for his characters. Follow him on ‘Twitter ’and on Google+.