Looking for the best video conferencing service? Here’s a guide

We’ve got you covered for work as well as casual meetings



The Coronavirus pandemic has forced everyone indoors and companies are scrambling to adopt the work-from-home model. While larger companies deal directly with service providers under the B2B setup, individuals or smaller teams are having a hard time picking the right video conferencing service or app.

Before we get started, you need to ask yourself about your requirements. How big is your team? How well equipped is your team? Most importantly, how do you intend to use the service?

1. Zoom

Zoom is among the most popular video conferencing platforms for businesses. It is feature-rich, with various plans based on size and needs. Prices range from free for basic personal meetings to US$ 19.99/month/host for large enterprises with a minimum of 100 hosts. It’s desktop as well as mobile apps are straightforward and require bare-minimum hardware to run.

However, the service has risen to fame too soon amid the pandemic and couldn’t keep up with stringent safety as well as privacy norms. If your business deals with sensitive information that needs guaranteed protection, we’d suggest staying away from this service for now. But, it isn’t that unsafe to use and is perfect for general domestic as well as business needs.

2. Skype / Microsoft Teams

The name is synonymous with video conferencing and pioneered the industry more a decade ago. Now owned by Microsoft, it’s a robust platform that’s well integrated with other Microsoft services like Outlook and even Office. If your workflow is based on the Microsoft ecosystem, this should be your go-to option. However, Skype is limited inherently and recommended for individual or casual meetings with friends and family.

For work or businesses, Microsoft Teams is a collaborating tool like Slack that intends to replace emails and make workplace connectivity even more streamlined. You can add up to 100 participants in one call and that’ll be soon upgraded to 250 in the coming weeks. Both the services have free as well as paid plans depending on the requirement.

3. Google Hangouts / Google Meet

Just like Microsoft’s offering, Google Hangouts has been around for a long time and the go-to option for many. It was designed to offer group video calling, but for domestic or casual use. It’s also deeply integrated into Google’s ecosystem of services and often competes against the companies another offering — Google Duo.

For work or business-related usage, Google was quick to launch Google Meet. In simpler terms, it’s an upgraded version of Google Hangouts and can accommodate up to 100 users at once and has both, paid as well as free plans. However, it’s more generous than Zoom and gives free users a 60-minute usage window than just 40.

4. Facebook Messenger Rooms:

While every tech giant is going after the video-conferencing trend, Facebook felt left out as well and debuted a feature called Messenger Rooms. It allows up to 50 people to take part in a video chat, even if they don’t have Facebook accounts. In line with Facebook’s history with Instagram, it lets you add augmented reality (AR) filters like bunny ears and more.

We’d suggest using this app for casual calls with your friends and acquaintances or hosting informal “rooms” with your colleagues or Meetup events. Facebook’s history with privacy hasn’t been spick-and-span and we don’t encourage enterprises to use this service.

5. WhatsApp / FaceTime:

WhatsApp is the most popular instant messaging app and is known for its simplicity yet feature-rich offerings. When compared to the rest of the services, this one lets you add only eight users in a group video call. And, that’s the intended purpose. The app is super casual and best for waking up that one friend who has been sleeping too much during the lockdown.

The same goes for FaceTime, Apple’s in-house messaging, and video calling service. If you’re a micro-team, these solutions would very well work for you. But as you grow, these tools are insufficient to get work done and are standalone apps that offer nothing more than just the basics.


TikTok officially launches a dislike button



Months ago, TikTok started experimenting with a dislike button for the platform’s comments. Much like other platforms, the company is creating a way to promote healthier discourse. However, the experiment never had a launch date all those months ago. Finally, after months in development, TikTok is finally ready to launch the dislike button.

Through the platform’s official Twitter account, TikTok is releasing the dislike button. This time, the platform has explained how the feature will work.

As detailed before, users will not see how many dislikes a comment has. Users will only have access to the button itself to dislike and retract dislikes. Only TikTok itself can see the number of dislikes. The platform will then use the information to filer through potential hate speech and harassment that they might have missed the first go-around.

By hiding the number of dislikes, TikTok hopes that users will not be tempted to abuse the dislike button to brigade against just simply unpopular opinions.

While moderation will help the platform with a persistent problem in social media, the company does have other issues. One current problem — that has plagued the platform for years now — is the issue of China’s potential access to data from users in other countries.

SEE ALSO: TikTok is experimenting with a dislike button for comments

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Instagram can soon detect nude photos in your DMs

Currently testing



One of the constant risks of online communication is the unexpected and unsolicited appearance of an unsightly growth emanating from a stranger’s pants. Unfortunately, not a lot of platforms offer anything preventative, outside of just blocking the offender. Testing a new tool, Instagram is finally implementing a way to automatically detect and block nudity from your DMs.

The upcoming feature was first spotted by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi on Twitter. According to early screenshots, Instagram will hide any suspected nude photos behind a prompt. Users can then choose to access the photo despite the warning. Notably, users can turn this feature off entirely.

Shortly after the leak, Meta confirmed the feature’s development through a statement issued to The Verge. While the feature is still in development, Instagram is still working on ways to protect both the sender’s identity and the recipient’s privacy.

Though the screenshots look conclusive, the feature has yet to reveal how the app can detect genitalia. A portion of the warning says that “technology on your device” is responsible. If the feature is indeed using native technology, Instagram has some work to do to assure users that it can’t store or see anyone’s nude photos.

SEE ALSO: Instagram bans Pornhub

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Spotify adds over 300,000 audiobooks to library

Available for purchase and offline listening



After a massive push into the world of podcasts, it’s only natural that Spotify would soon look at audiobooks with a hungry eye. In the United States, the streaming platform has added a huge helping of audiobooks available for purchase.

It’s been a long time coming, too. Last year, the platform added a variety of books from the public domain for free. Narrated by famous actors like Forest Whitaker and Hilary Swank, the content came to every user, free or paying.

Now, Spotify is adding over 300,000 titles to its library. Starting today, users in the United States will have access to a dedicated section for the format. Interested users will then be led to an external link where they can purchase the book for themselves.

For consumption, Spotify will enable users to save their audiobook for offline listening. It will also allow users to control the speed of the book’s playback.

Prior to the addition, Spotify already had a niche community for audiobook lovers. If you dig deep enough, you’ll find readings of popular titles outside of the platform’s public domain offerings. You might find them lurking as albums or as podcasts. Now, however, it’s official. If you want an actual audiobook to listen to, you can choose to skip over a subscription to other audiobook platforms like Audible.

Besides audiobooks, the platform has also expanded into other services related to audio entertainment. One recent example sees Spotify selling tickets to live events directly from the service.

SEE ALSO: Spotify is now adding free audiobooks

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