Since the lockdown started, video conferencing app Zoom has become the go-to choice for many of us working remotely and trying to stay in touch with friends and family.
Zoom is free, easy to use and available on many different platforms. However, it’s come under fire for a series of security mis-steps that have caused some organisations to ban its use.
To make things interesting, Google has announced this week it is making its own service Google Meet available for free to anyone with a Google account.
Which one should you choose? Here’s a rundown of the pros and cons of the two platforms to help you understand the differences.
Google Meet vs Zoom: Features
If you’re looking for simplicity, then Zoom is hard to beat. The app version can be downloaded on Windows or Mac as well as iOS and Android for mobile. If you don’t want to download the app then you can launch it directly in a browser.
You’ll need an account but after that, you can host or join one-on-one meetings or group video calls. The free tier limits group chats to up to 100 participants and a length of 40 minutes however one-on-one meetings are unlimited.
When you’re in a meeting, you can take advantage of screen-sharing to display what’s on your device and co-annotation.
Google Meet, on the other hand, will now allow anyone with a Google account to have group chats lasting up to 60 minutes with up to 100 participants. The 60 minute time limit is being waved until September, so you can take advantage of unlimited time for the moment.
Like Zoom, the app can be downloaded on iOS or Android as well as being accessed through the browser.
Google Meet can work with Google’s other software products, so you can set up calls with Google Calendar and record meetings to Google Drive.
It doesn’t have Zoom’s screen sharing options but it will display up to 16 participants at once if you use the grid view.
Google Meet vs Zoom: Security
Zoom has been hit hard with concerns over security and privacy and now says it is working to address them.
A recent update to the app offered a range of security fixes including an upgraded encryption standard, a new, clearer security icon to access the safety settings, a tool to report users and new password controls.
The app was also criticised after it emerged some meeting data could have been routed through servers in China, so the ability for users to control which data centres their meetings data is routed through has now also been added.
Among the other new features confirmed in the update is a waiting room feature being on by default – meaning all meeting participants are kept in individual virtual waiting rooms until they are admitted to the meeting. This is seen as a key tool in stopping Zoombombing.
Elsewhere, needing a password to join a meeting is now on by default, as is needing a password to access meeting recordings. It is also now possible for meeting hosts to report a user in a meeting, as well as disable their ability to rename themselves.
Meanwhile, Google hosts Meet on its G Cloud infrastructure, keeping it relatively secure.
The tech giant is espousing the security credentials of Meet so if you’re concerned about privacy it could be the one to go for.
Google says it has introduced a strong set of host controls such as the ability to admit or deny entry to a meeting, and mute or remove participants, if needed. No anonymous users (i.e., without a Google Account) can join meetings created by individual accounts.
Meet meeting codes are complex by default and therefore resilient to brute-force “guessing.” Also, Meet video meetings are encrypted in transit, and all recordings stored in Google Drive are encrypted in transit and at rest.
There are No plugins required to use Meet on the web as it works entirely in Chrome and other modern browsers, so it’s less vulnerable to security threats.
Google Meet vs Zoom: Popularity
As with any kind of social technology, which format you choose will likely depend on how many other people you know are using it. After all, a gamer won’t buy a PlayStation if all their friends are using Xboxes.
Google Meet benefits from the fact that most people will have Google accounts. The company says it is adding three million new users a day and so there’s a high chance that people you want to talk to will be able to get Google Meet quickly and easily.
However, Zoom has a big head start and it’s likely that if you’ve had a work call or joined a virtual drinks session since the lockdown began, you’ve done it on Zoom. The company says it has seen its user base grow by 50% to 300 million around the world in just the last three weeks.
The other thing to bear in mind is that if you have less tech-savvy friends or elderly parents, convincing them to switch from something they’ve grown used to using may be difficult.
When it comes to a raw comparison, Google Meet offers more features and a better level of security but Zoom is simpler and better understood by most people.
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