by Matt Mullarkey-Toner
Published on 24 February 2017
As Internet speeds improve, cameras take photos in higher quality, and Facebook considers going all-in on video, you can be sure that the business world is only going to dive deeper into video conferencing. The future of business will be clearer voices, more media integration, and your face (and all its blemishes) will be in glorious 5K. With that in mind, we've put together a list of the top video conferencing apps for small teams.
Following in line with this post on projectment tools for small teams, we've determined this based on a few factors that include key features, selling points, and pricing.
You're already familiar with Skype's most famous feature: video calling. But the app can do a lot more than that. GetApp user Brace Brittany has a good breakdown of some of the key features of Skype:
"Skype is the department store of communication software. Skype has tweaked its interface over the years. The current version is clean and simple, with your user picture and a search box at top left. Skype is a good entry-level, low-cost VoIP service. It allows us everything including Group video calling, Rich text messaging, Calling to standard phones, an actual public phone number, Wi-Fi hotspots and live translation also.
"This internet phone service provides call waiting, voicemail, caller ID and call forwarding. We can call people through your contacts list, which effectively makes it a speed dial function. The video conferencing feature is great for meetings or talking face-to-face virtually among friends."
Skype's VoIP capabilities allow it to be more than just a messaging and video conferencing app: it can make calls and send SMS. Getapp user Janelle Montgomery writes:
"You can message, phone call, and video chat all in one app. If you could use this as your main source of communication in a company for everyone, it would be awesome! You would only need one app. It's also a great place to keep track of your contacts and It's easy to use too."
First things first: the vanilla version of Skype is free and you should try it first. If you like the app, you have a few different pricing options. They have two different standalone plans (i.e. you don't need Office) with the cheapest starting at $2 per user per month. If you have Office 365 (Essentials or Premium) you can start with a plan as low as $5 per user per month (with a one year commitment).
If you're interested in reading about the difference between Skype and Skype for Business, check out this article.
Google Hangouts is part of the G Suite apps and, like Skype, has a free version for B2C and is free to try with a Google account.
A strong point of Hangouts is that it's part of the greater G Suite ecosystem, which means it integrates with other Google Apps. GetApp user William Tate writes:
"Our digital agency has been using g-suite when it was still Google Apps for Work. Having our beloved gmail was one thing, but the collaboration possibilities with google docs, google sheets and just google drive as a file sharing tool are endless. Also hangouts as a messaging platform is brilliant."
At the end of the day, Hangouts is great because it helps reduce the challenges that come with working remotely. GetApp user Mackenzie Horn writes:
"More recently we began using hangouts video chats to communicate with our remote employees and find it to be a much more effective tool than voice calls."
G Suite Basic starts at $5 per user per month. It goes up to $10 per user per month for more features and storage. If you can't find a plan to fit your needs, it's worth contacting Google and you can possibly work something out.
GetApp user Micah Young writes:
"We moved in the Google Apps/Google for work direction because it was the cheapest way for us to manage email that included document management and productivity tools. By eliminating exchange completely and heavily cutting back on Office license purchases, we save $50k+ every year and have a lot fewer email-related headaches"
For a complete look as to whether you should upgrade to G Suite, check out this article.
Highfive was built with video conferencing in mind (unlike Skype which was focused on VoIP) so it makes it as easy as possible to start a video conference.
Highfive is a great option for companies that need to have video conferences with more than a few people. Accessing video conferences via Highfive is easy: simply share a link and anyone can join, regardless of whether they have a Highfive account or not. It also makes screensharing tremendously easy. Capterra user Brian DeSimone writes:
"I use this on a daily basis and it is easy to use. It is helpful when trying to get teams together and has a lot of great features that some competitors do not offer. I specifically love the wireless screen sharing and the ability to stream to a TV."
Highfive makes it easy to close the distance by providing an intuitive user interface and sticking to the idea of keeping things simple. Capterra user Binita Patel writes:
"HighFive quality has gotten much better over the last few months. It is crucial to my work day as my boss is in another state and I have to connect with her daily. Having the face-to-face interaction is key to maintaining a great working relationship."
At first blush, Highfive seems expensive when compared to its competitors: it starts at $99 per month, per room, paid annually (so about $1200 per year). But all Highfive subscriptions include unlimited users and unlimited meetings. Essentially, you shouldn't run into many extra charges or costs, which makes it great for scaling. Capterra user Emanuele Salini writes:
"Setup was extremely easy, and clients are constantly impressed by the solution thinking it costs a lot more than it actually does."
Citrix-owned GoToMeeting has a reputation for delivering solid voice quality and being easy to use, which is important if your company lives and dies by video calls.
As mentioned above, users love GoToMeetings simplicity and reliability. It's a great option for rolling out due to the little training it requires. Capterra user Kelly Clarke writes:
"Having zero experience with this software it is very easy to use. No instructions are necessary. We use GTM for all of our company conference calls since we are spread out throughout the country."
Another perk of GoToMeeting is that it's easy to share your screen and share documents, while maintaining a high call quality. Capterra user Scott Geosits writes:
"I telecommute and have been using GoTo Meeting for almost 6 years now. I've tried several other web meeting applications but I have found GoTo Meeting to have the best quality Voice over IP and the easiest set of controls to use over any of the other solutions I've tried."
Another Capterra user, Alex Leinweber writes:
"We used to try doing conference calls on our cell phones and it was a mess. We also would have to share documents before meetings and then talk through them. Using GTM has made board meetings much easier and more efficient. The video conferencing plus content sharing has been amazing for our organization during our monthly meetings."
GoToMeeting's price depends on the country you work in, so head on over to this pricing page and figure out what plan works for you. GoToMeeting also offers a free trial, which is worth taking advantage of if you're considering purchasing it. Capterra user Matt Cullen writes:
"Go To Meeting is something our company has used to stay connected with both our out of office staff and clients. Always reliable and fairly priced."
These are some of the top apps for video conferencing, but make sure to check out our category, because there are many more apps. If you need help regarding what features to look for in a video conferencing solution, be sure to check out this handy checklist we've put together. Otherwise, let us know in the comments below whether you have any tips regarding video conferencing or questions.