Now that social distancing—and working from home—has become the new normal thanks to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it seems that the majority of our time is spent on Zoom calls, whether it’s catching up with family or sitting in yet another meeting. But recently both Facebook and Google have upped their video-conferencing game, offering new options that could be safer and better than Zoom.
First up is Facebook, who rolled out the new Messenger Rooms (along with group chat features on its WhatsApp platform) last week. “Messenger Rooms make it easy to spend quality time with friends, loved ones and people who share your interests,” the social media giant explained in its release. “Create a room right from Messenger or Facebook, and invite anyone to join your video call, even if they don’t have a Facebook account.”
Messenger Rooms can hold up to 50 people and, unlike Zoom, there’s no time limit. Plus, Facebook has put plenty of security measures in place—the host of a call has complete control over who can see and join the room and can even lock the room or remove unwanted guests.
Along with Facebook, Google has enhanced their Meet platform to be more competitive with Zoom. Not only is it now free to anyone (it was previously only for schools and businesses), but it can hold up to 100 participants and, most importantly, is even safer than before. “We designed Meet to operate on a secure foundation, providing the protections needed to keep our users safe, their data secure, and their information private,” Google says. Examples of those measures include requiring users to have a Google account to join a Meet and automatically making meeting passwords purposefully complex so there’s less of a chance of hacking.
One caveat with Google Meet: While there’s currently no time limit, Google has said they will start capping calls to 60 minutes after September 30, 2020.