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5 Alternatives to Zoom App for Video Conferences From Home

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Zoom gained a huge traction in a short span of time as several people are working from home due to the coronavirus outbreak. The video conference app pulled in more than 200 million daily active users last month — significantly up from a maximum of 10 million users previously. However, despite its skyrocketing growth, Zoom has been under fire over security concerns. From schools and officials to various governments, people have been asked to refrain from using the app. The Indian government also recently warned its officials about the Zoom. Also, some of its users have alleged that the app sends data to third parties located in China.

That being said, its key features such as being able to video-conference with up to 100 people for free (up to 500 participants in paid plans) and recording support make the Zoom app a great solution for virtual meetings. The app is also available across platforms and can enable video calling through mobile devices. But if you don’t trust Zoom and are look for capable alternatives, you’re in the right place.

Here, we are listing top five free alternatives to the Zoom app to help with your video calling needs.

Cisco Webex Meetings

Cisco is offering free access to its Webex Meetings in all countries where it is available to support the work from home needs during the coronavirus outbreak. Despite being available as free, you’ll get all enterprise features including unlimited usage with no time restrictions, support for up to 100 participants, and a toll dial-in in addition to Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) capabilities. All you need is to sign up on the Cisco Webex portal to get started with the Webex Meetings. Overall, the experience that’s been offered by Cisco is nowhere limited when comparing with Zoom.

Skype Meet Now

For users who don’t to go with an highly enterprise-focussed solution like Cisco Webex, Microsoft recently brought Skype Meet Now that serves as an alternative to Zoom. It works without requiring an account and supports up to 50 participants — all for free. You’ll also get features such as the ability to record calls, blur background before entering the call, and screen sharing. Moreover, you just need to visit the dedicated webpage to begin with Skype Meet Now.

Microsoft Teams

If you don’t want a solution just to make video calls, you can look at Microsoft Teams. It is also available for free during the pandemic. The free version brings unlimited chat and search, group and one-on-one audio and video calling, and 10GB of team file storage along with 2GB of personal file storage per person. If you already have an Office 365 account, you’ll get real-time collaboration with Office apps for Web, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

Discord

Discord has also emerged as a strong alternative to Zoom, thanks to its video conferencing capabilities that let you connect with up to 50 participants at once. The platform is popular amongst gamers, though you can use it as a tool to communicate with your office team or some friends. You can also download its mobile app to connect with your contacts using your smartphone. There are also features to share your screen or perform voice calls. Just like other free alternatives to Zoom, Discord provides video conferencing at no cost. You just need to sign up on the Discord site or through its app to get started with your virtual conferences.

Google Hangouts

If you don’t want to use Discord for any reason, you can opt for Google Hangouts, which is also a decent, free alternative to Zoom. You can make video calls with up to 10 participants or chat with up to 150 participants at once. Google also lets you host video calls or talk with your colleagues through text messages using a mobile device. Further, being a Google product, Hangouts just needs your Gmail account to let you get started. If you are open to pay, you’ll be able to increase the limit for video calls to up to 25 participants as well.

What else you can look at as an alternative to Zoom

Since video conferencing isn’t new, there are several other solutions in the market that can cater to your demand. You can get Google Hangouts Meet that is available for free for all G Suite users until July 1 and provides features such as up to 250 participants per call, live streaming for up to 100,000 viewers within a domain, and the ability to record meetings and save them to Google Drive. If a Google solution isn’t something you want for your conversations, you can consider Jitsi Meet that can be accessed through your desktop or laptop or using a mobile device. You can also connect it with your Slack. There are also paid solutions such as Zoho Meeting and GoToMeeting that you can get for free under a trial.


Is iPhone SE the ultimate ‘affordable’ iPhone for India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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Facebook Purchases Majority Stake in Indian Internet Provider Jio for $5.7 Billion

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If you wanted to know how much value Facebook sees in the emerging Indian market, this deal certainly provides some indication.

After recent reports that Facebook was looking to acquire a stake in Indian internet provider Jio, The Social Network has now confirmed that it has purchased a majority stake in the Reliance-owned venture for a massive $US5.7 billion.

As explained by Facebook:

“Today we are announcing a $5.7 billion, or INR 43,574 crore, investment in Jio Platforms Limited, part of Reliance Industries Limited, making Facebook its largest minority shareholder. The investment underscores our commitment to India, and our excitement for the dramatic transformation that Jio has spurred in the country.”

Launched just three years ago, Jio has quickly become one of the top internet providers in India, with some 388 million customers in the region. Facebook’s involvement will provide Jio with a whole range of new resources, while the acquisition will provide Facebook with a new way into the Indian market, which it’s been looking to gain a foothold in for many years, with varying levels of success.

Most notable for Facebook will be connection to WhatsApp, the most used messaging app in the nation.

As Facebook notes:

“Over the years, Facebook has invested in India to connect people and help businesses launch and grow. WhatsApp is so ingrained in Indian life that it has become a commonly used verb across many Indian languages and dialects. Facebook brings together friends and families, but moreover, it’s one of the country’s biggest enablers of growth for small businesses. And Instagram has grown dramatically in India in recent years as the place where people follow their interests and passions.”

Facebook will be hoping to use its newfound presence in the local market to fuel more business activity via WhatsApp, and Facebook, which will incorporate broader expansion of Indian eCommerce platforms like Meesho, which Facebook also acquired last year.

Meesho

India, and its 1.4 billion citizens, is the next key battleground for the tech giants, with both Facebook and Google both working to gain a foothold in the Indian market in order to expand their audience base, provide new business tools, and build revenue-generating partnerships that will facilitate significant opportunities to expand their respective empires.

The developing region is on the cusp of hitting the next stage in tech adoption. India is now the world’s second-largest smartphone market after China, while the number of internet users in the nation is expected to top 850 million by 2022. For comparison, the US is expected to reach around 300 million internet users at the same stage. 

Given this, the tech company that can best position itself in the Indian market stands to win out big time as Indian users adapt to how they live and work incorporating online means.

Facebook’s deal for Jio is a massive win in this respect, and while past efforts like its Free Basics program haven’t been welcomed by Indian regulators, it would appear that Facebook has found a new opportunity, which will be a key element in the platform’s growth strategy moving forward.

That will also, eventually, facilitate new opportunities for businesses looking to connect with the Indian market, as Facebook moves to provide more business tools.

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WhatsApp Launches New ‘Together at Home’ Sticker Pack for Coronavirus Lockdown Chats

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WhatsApp has introduced a new sticker pack called ‘Together at Home’. The instant messaging giant has partnered with World Health Organisation (WHO) to create these new stickers to reflect the feelings and emotions that people across the globe are going through at the moment. These new stickers will be available in the English, Hindi, and a host of other languages. WhatsApp introduced stickers two years ago, and since then it has become an important tool of expression on the social platform.

The new sticker pack is called ‘Together at Home’ and it aptly reflects all the moods during this period of staying indoors. It has a sticker that shows a man with a laptop wearing pyjamas depicting the new norm of ‘work from home’. WhatsApp promotes social distancing through stickers that depict an ‘air high five’ and ‘group video calling’. There are stickers inside the pack that show a man binge-watching a series on the bed, another man doing yoga with his dog, reminding people to wash hands, people catching up in balconies, and a female snooping on neighbours using binoculars. There are stickers that celebrate medical heroes as well as personal heroes during the COVID-19 crisis.

25 WhatsApp Tricks to Help Master the Messaging App

The “Together at Home” sticker pack is available within WhatsApp, and can be downloaded for free. It is currently available in English as well as text localised for 10 languages – Arabic, French, German, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Turkish. With this new sticker pack, WhatsApp looks to offer more ways to stay connected during the pandemic.

The company has been working on improving the WhatsApp experience recently, especially as more as more people stay and work at home. The latest beta has doubled the group calling limit from four to eight on WhatsApp, and now that it has been enabled for both Android and iOS users, the stable rollout should follow soon.


Is iPhone SE the ultimate ‘affordable’ iPhone for India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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Health Ministry Teams Up With Twitter to Respond to Queries Around COVID-19

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The Union Health Ministry has teamed up with Twitter to launch a dedicated account to respond to Indian Twitter users’ queries related to COVID-19. The new account COVID India Seve using Twitter’s Twitter Seva platform, “a customised live query redressal service.” People can put their queries forward by tweeting to @CovidIndiaSeva to get a response from the authorities. The account describes itself as “Official @MoHFW_INDIA Handle for COVID-19 Response” and it was created in March. Twitter said that the service will enable the government to interact effectively with the public during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

People in India can tweet to the @CovidIndiaSeva to seek guidance regarding steps to take if COVID-19 symptoms occur, know more about access to healthcare services, measures implemented by the government, among many other topics. According to Twitter, people will get answers to only broader questions, meaning personal queries won’t be dealt with through the new service.

Tweeting about the launch, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan wrote, “Experts will share authoritative public health information reg #COVIDー19 swiftly at scale, helping to build a direct channel for communication with citizens. Post your queries!”

@CovidIndiaSeva has been responding to the questions from Twitter users. NDTV journalist Akhilesh Sharma asked, ”Crucial question in everyone’s mind is that whether we are testing enough? What about rapid antibody based blood tests esp for COVID inflicted areas?”

Answering the question, @CovidIndiaSeva replied, “At present, 204 government labs and 86 NABL accredited private laboratory chains are involved in testing. The no. of collection centers have also been enhanced to 16,000 centers across India. We have already tested 4,05,320 people.” It went on to add, “Government of India has issued advisory to start rapid antibody based blood test for COVID-19 for areas reporting clusters (containment zone) and in large migration gatherings/evacuees centers.”

Twitter India has also been working with various state governments in the country to make the COVID-19 response management better. “It has also supported and enabled the Govt of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh to set-up dedicated COVID-Response accounts. Govt. of Karnataka, Maharashtra,” it said in a statement.

NDTV Gadgets360.com

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