We won’t be seeing relatives this Christmas but at least we can Zoom them for longer.
The US video conferencing software propping up worldwide communication during the pandemic has announced it will drop the 40-minute call limit over Christmas.
It means that anyone using Zoom’s free tier will be able to enjoy unlimited use of the software on the last day of Hanukah, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
‘As a token of appreciation to our users during an extraordinary time, we’re removing the 40-minute limit on free Zoom accounts for all meetings globally for several upcoming special occasions,’ Zpom said in a statement.
‘Whether coming together on the final day of Hanukkah, celebrating Christmas, ringing in the new year or marking the last days of Kwanzaa, those connecting with friends and family won’t get cut short.’
The move has been welcomed by various health experts who want the UK to observe socially-distanced celebrations.
‘I hope it is an example that others will follow,’ Stephen Reicher, a professor of social psychology at the University of St Andrews, told the Guardian.
‘The message is very simple: meeting over Christmas is a risk to you, your family and your community. It will be a gift to the virus, because a crowded Christmas dinner table is the ideal condition for transmission, but if anyone were to fall ill it would be just about the worst present we could give to each other.
‘For a few exceptional cases it will make sense to meet up – if you have a relative with limited life expectancy or suffering severe mental health problems from isolation. But they will be exceptional. And if everybody takes advantage of the flexibility then infections will surge and there will be mourning in January.’
Of course, if you’ve got a paid-for Zoom account then you will have unlimited meeting time as a standard feature.
Google Meet vs Zoom: Which should you choose?
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 allow anyone with a Google account to have group chats lasting up to 60 minutes with up to 100 participants.
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.