We have gotten emails about whether we plan to do a free multipoint video conferencing software review and point readers in the right direction about which apps live up to the task. Here is our initial review. We will follow-up with individual reviews later, which will provide a more detailed look at each software and the pros and cons. By definition, multipoint video conference means a video conference call that requires the participation of 3 or more sites.
Google Hangouts is a late entrant to the free video conferencing space but has become a formidable competitor to Skype (reviewed below). The hangout capability comes as the default chat app on Android devices. Google Hangouts allows you to connect with up to 10 people in a free web conference.
One of the things we like about this service is that regardless of how poor the data connection is, Google Hangouts seems to deliver a good experience, which is really important when connecting with lots of people with different data or broadband capabilities on their devices. Another neat feature is that Google Hangouts is integrated with Google Voice so you can call regular telephone lines and have them as part of your conversation (iOS only). You can also text and chat in the Google hangout application, making it a one stop shop for video conferencing, sharing information, chatting and texting with multiple people all at the same time. Here is how it works:
Google Hangouts is also cross-platform, and there are native apps on both Android and iOS, plus a web version that runs on Google Chrome. You can download it for free from Google Play for Andriod devices or the App Store for Apple devices. You can also get the desktop version online.
Vidyo, the video conferencing firm has a free multipoint video conferencing service called VidyoWay. It can be used from smartphones and PCs, and also from corporate conference rooms using Polycom, Cisco/Tandberg and Microsoft Lync endpoints, among others. It allows up to 9 HD participants in a video conference, making it more suitable for business environments.
We get a lot of questions about why Vidyo will offer VidyoWay as a free service. The answer is simple – They want VidyoWay to serve as a marketing tool for Vidyo’s paid, higher-quality corporate services. Once you see how powerful the VidyoWay video conference experience is, you are more likely to upgrade to other Vidyo conferencing products with more bells and whistles that you may need for your business needs. Here is how it works:
Skype was the first to bring video conferencing services to the masses and have remained an industry trailblazer in the space. Skype is ideal when connecting with another person for video conference. All you need is to download the Skype application and just connect your webcam and microphone to the USB ports on your desktop and you are good to go. If your device or computer already comes with a built in camera, then all you need is a microphone or headset to conduct a video conference. Skype can offer multi-point video conferencing with up to 10 participants. However, to use the service, at least one person on the call needs to have a Premium account (which is $9 a month). Note that you can do person-to-person video calls (point-to-point) for free. When you need 3 or more participants on the call, then one participant has to have a Premium account. The pricing sheet below shows what you can do with a free skype account and what the Premium account offers.
Here is how it works:
You can download Skype here. Skype is truly a multi platform application, with Mac, PC, Android, Windows and other devices like gaming consoles all supported.
ooVoo is a free video conferencing service that allows you to video conference with up to 12 people. Once you download their app, all you need to do to start a video conference is by choosing Web Call in your contact list, then select Add a Call to add another friend. When you invite friends to a group chat, they get a link to download ooVoo and an invitation to call you to join the chat. You can even add friends from Facebook, Outlook, Twitter, Gmail, and AOL mail.
ooVoo has apps for Facebook, iPhone, iPad, Android, PC, and Mac. ooVoo works well on a Windows 8 computer, but has no dedicated Windows 8 app. ooVoo’s best feature, the ability to chat with 12 people at once, doesn’t work completely on all devices. While it is seamless on a PC, Mac users can only see six people, but can hear all 12. The iPad app lets you see only four contacts at once.
ooVoo needs to improve their user interface if they are going to compete with established platforms like VidyoWay and Google Hangouts. Also, there are display ads in the application, which can be quite large, making the experience quite unpleasant since the ads are in your face. We think that they should first work on making sure their application works on cross platforms seamlessly, so that if I am making a call on an iphone and inviting someone who has a windows or android phone, the experience is seamless and that we all see the same thing.
In addition they need to do something about the ad placement. They need to make it such that it is not intrusive to the video conference experience, otherwise it becomes a nuisance and people will be turned off by that. For a free app, ooVoo works, but needs a lot of improvements to compete with the big boys in the space for Free Multipoint Video Conferencing Software.
Here is how it works:
We hope you found our review useful. If there is a free multipoint video conferencing software or application we neglected to mention, please let us know in the comments section below.