Find out how Facebook’s new video-chat feature stacks up against popular Zoom for quarantine calls and meetings.
Coronavirus lockdowns and quarantines may be lifting in some areas, but many people are still going to be working and socializing from home for the foreseeable future. Video-chat apps have never been more popular, with Zoom seeing 300 million daily meeting participants, and services like Microsoft Teams, Skype, FaceTime, Google Meet and Google Hangouts offering new features and free tiers to keep people connected.
But how does Messenger Rooms compare to Zoom? Read on to find out which makes the most sense for you to use.
With Messenger Rooms, Facebook users can create a video chat room via Facebook or the Messenger app and invite up to 50 people to join a video call — even if they don’t have a Facebook account. It’s free, and there’s no time limit on calls. You can use the feature from the Messenger app on your phone or desktop, or certain browsers (including Google Chrome).
Create a room by opening the Messenger app, tapping the People tab at the bottom right of the screen, and tapping Create a room. Then you’ll select the people you want to invite to your room.
Whereas Zoom was originally targeted to business customers but picked up by consumers during the pandemic, Messenger Rooms is firmly aimed at consumers and meant for connecting with friends and family. But you can still share a screen or schedule a meeting ahead of time, and see everyone in a grid view. You can also leave a room open to a certain group of people, or your whole friend list, so anyone can drop in at any time.
Though Facebook is no stranger to privacy and security concerns, Messenger Rooms’ privacy protections include the ability to control who sees your room, and can lock or unlock it. If it’s unlocked, anyone with the link can join and share the room with others. But the room creator has to be present to start the call. They can control who can join, and can remove participants at any time, too. People can report a room for violating Facebook rules — though those reports will not include any video or audio from the call. Facebook doesn’t listen to your calls at all, the company said.
Facebook plans to add ways to create Rooms from Instagram Direct, WhatsApp and the Portal smart display as well. Features will include 14 camera filters and changeable backgrounds.
The Zoom video conference app works for Android, iOS, PC and Mac. It offers a basic free plan that allows you to host a meeting with up to 100 participants, or options for small and medium-size business teams as well as large enterprises, which can host up to 1,000 users on a single call. While it was originally aimed at business users, many consumers began using the platform during the pandemic for keeping in touch with friends and family as well.
Zoom offers HD video and audio, collaboration tools like simultaneous screen-sharing and co-annotation, and the ability to record meetings and generate transcripts. Outlook, Gmail and iCal support scheduling and starting meetings in the app.
If your mic and camera are off, Zoom has the option to communicate via chat (the interface looks a bit like Slack). This feature can also be helpful if it’s a massive all-hands meeting and the opportunity for questions is available.
It’s free to sign up with Zoom — you can either manually create an account with an email or sign in with Google or Facebook.
Zoom’s meteoric rise during the pandemic led to the discovery of a number of privacy and security issues, including Zoombombing (where uninvited attendees break into and disrupt meetings). However, you can take certain steps to protect your meetings, like using a per-meeting ID and enabling the “Waiting Room” feature so you can see who is attempting to join a meeting before allowing access.
Zoom’s video-chat service still has millions of daily users and offers a good experience for small and large group chats, thanks in part to the ability to use “gallery view” to see all of the meeting participants at once, which others like Google Hangouts do not. And the ability to change your Zoom background is an added bonus that can spice up any meeting.