As much of the United States and other places around the world are under stay-at-home orders, many people are working from home. That is good news for services like Skype and Zoom, two apps dedicated to group video chat. As both apps offer roughly the same service, how does a person or business choose which one to utilize? Let’s look at which one serves you best in lockdown.
Zoom has been criticized for its unpredictable video quality. Some of that depends on your Internet network and some on the app itself. Skype is widely regarded as offering better audio and video quality at the expense of random freezing of the app. This isn’t to say that Zoom is unusable, but in a contest of which app offers more reliable video quality, Skype wins.
When it comes to overall features, both apps offer a range of options. Zoom lets users change their backgrounds. Instead of seeing the wall or room behind you, Zoom users can upload any image of their choice as a background. Zoom can also support up to 1,000 users between 49 different on-video screens. Skype will allow 50 participants on a single video conference call. Both apps support private conversations in a chatbox for sending messages while on a video call and call recording.
Ultimately, both apps compare pretty favorably when it comes to feature sets. Both apps incorporate screen sharing and the ability to upload files and other documents. Zoom adds a few features that Skype cannot match such as allowing two users to share their screens at a time.
Both Skype and Zoom offer widespread compatibility with cross-platform apps. Skype offers support for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and web browsers. As a Microsoft-owned tool, it adds deep integration into the company’s full suite of products. Zoom adds its own set of deep integrations alongside mobile apps for Android and iOS along with Windows, Mac and Linux. Zoom’s reach also extends through a bevy of third-party app integrations like Slack, Salesforce, Outlook, Google Drive and Dropbox.
For anyone looking at a video conference app, security should be paramount. Skype and Zoom both incorporate end-to-end encryption to ensure secure communications. However, more than a dozen security and privacy issues have kept Zoom in the headlines for all of the wrong reasons lately.
The issues were first discovered on March 4th when an investigation determined Zoom was sending user data to Facebook. Zoom reacted quickly and removed the analytics feature, but that was just the start of its troubles. Everyone including the New York attorney general, United States Congress and the Pentagon cautioned against Zoom use or blocked it entirely. There is no question that Zoom has a long road ahead to win back user trust.
Skype’s parent company, Microsoft, has been increasingly focused on privacy. The introduction of end-to-end encryption arrived in November 2018. However, in August 2019, Microsoft contractors were discovered to be listening in on random Skype calls using the app’s translation functionality. The issue was largely forgotten after a few months. Ultimately, Skype has seen far fewer privacy issues arise over its history, making it the more secure choice.
For its part, Skype is generally free as long as your calls, video chats and messaging is done with other Skype users. There are Skype services that do have a cost. For $2.99 a month, Skype users can receive unlimited minutes to call any landline or mobile phone within the U.S. That number jumps to $6.99 for unlimited minutes to calls in North America and so on.
Zoom offers four unique plans, each with its own target audience. Personal use is free to have video chats with up to 100 Zoom users. It includes unlimited meetings up to forty minutes if there are more than three users. Beyond that, “Pro” and “Enterprise” plans start at $14.99 and $19.99 and require a minimum number of users and are best used for businesses.
Which One Should You Use?
At the end of the day, both tools are going to make communication with family, friends and colleagues easier. Skype is the more user-friendly option, and its history ensures people are familiar with its layout and functions. Zoom adds more features, which can mean there is more of a learning curve. Skype’s 50-person limit also makes it better suited for smaller teams and groups, and it offers a slightly better deal price-wise and built-in web-browser support which anyone can use anywhere.
In the end, Skype’s history and Microsoft’s recent efforts to rework itself as a privacy-focused company make it the better choice for privacy. Choosing Zoom really comes down to how you feel about its privacy issues. If you are fine overlooking them, Zoom is a good choice. And if you decide to go with Zoom, don’t forget to make full use of its features for better remote meetings.
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