5 free tools for remote communication

5 free tools for remote communication

Google and Facebook are trying to thwart Zoom, the flagship video conferencing app. There are also alternative solutions. Like Jitsi or BigBlueButton. They offer safe, efficient and open source services. So free and free. Urgent to discover.

Intuitive video conferencing: Zoom

Video conferencing using Zoom exploded during confinement. Overwhelmed by its success, the Californian company has been criticized for its security flaws and (very poor) data collection practices…
A good reason to quickly look elsewhere (see. Jitsi and BigBlueButton).

Zoom’s incredible success still deserves a pause here. How to explain this surge in the video conferencing landscape? GAFA saw nothing coming. Of course, the application is free, at least in the “freemium” version:

  • limited to 100 participants;
  • 40 minutes maximum.

But Zoom isn’t the only free video application… If it seduces, it’s mostly for its ease of use. A wish from Eric S. Yuan, the founder, who, in his own words, is committed to an intuitive, fluid, “smooth” customer experience. This stripped down design priority evokes the vision of a certain Steve Jobs. Zoom has also wowed its competitors with innovative features such as:

  • mosaic video display;
  • virtual backgrounds.

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Jitsi: UnZoom Open Source

Jitsi is a video conferencing solution accessible through a simple website. Disturbingly, Jitsi Zoom has nothing to envy when it comes to ease of use. Just enter a video conference name to get the URL corresponding to the meeting room. Then send it to the participants. And that’s it ! You don’t need to register or create an account. No time limit, no participant limit either.

On the security side, video conferencing is encrypted, Edward Snowden even recommended using Jitsi, that says it all.
The functions are complete:

  • split screen;
  • “Chat”;
  • Recording of video conferences;
  • Editing a document in collaborative work via Etherpad.

You can even enable a blurred background if needed… The quality of video and audio can also be adjusted according to the available bandwidth.

As it is an open source platform, it is possible to create your own application that works with WebRTC over Jitsi Videobridge on an enterprise server.
Jitsi is also growing rapidly, with the number of users estimated at 30 million today.

BigBlueButton: an online training platform

Also open source, also easy. The name BigBlueButton translates the idea that starting a video conference should be as easy as pressing a “big blue button”.

No limit on the number of connected webcams (except bandwidth). The functionalities are very complete:

  • Sharing voice and video images;
  • voice over IP;
  • PowerPoint presentations;
  • white board;
  • “Chat”;
  • online surveys;
  • subgroups;
  • Integration of PDF and Microsoft Office documents.

Non-verbal interactivity functions such as “raise hand” or inserting emojis are also available.

Therefore, apart from being an open-source video conferencing tool that is largely as powerful as the above solutions, BigBlueButton is a true online training solution. Thanks to a special plug-in, BigBlueButton also integrates perfectly with Moodle, the most widely used online learning platform in the world (LMS, Learning Management System).

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Facebook launches video conferencing with Messenger

Facebook has also followed Zoom’s example and introduced a video conferencing solution with Messenger Rooms. Private video rooms with space for 50 people. These visios can of course be started from Messenger, but also from a Facebook event or from a group.

We can sense community managers’ interest in increasing interactions with their communities and re-personalizing the relationship the brand can nurture with its audience. Especially since it will be possible to invite anyone to a video messenger room even if they don’t have a Facebook account. Each of the “rooms” has its own URL that can be shared.

It is now possible to create “rooms” from Messenger, Facebook application, a group and also from a Facebook event. Learn more about Messenger Rooms.

Google Meet becomes free

Google Meet, Google’s premium video conferencing solution, is free for all users until September 30th.

The Mountain View giant argues the security of its solution to convince users who have cooled off from Zoom’s shortcomings. Therefore, Google Meet does not allow anonymous users (i.e. without a Google account) to join meetings created by individual accounts. A way to avoid “Zoom bombing” (when intruders invite themselves en masse to a Zoom video conference). Meeting codes are complex by default to limit intrusion attempts, and video meetings are encrypted.

Google Meet works directly in Chrome (or any other modern browser) without the need to install a plugin. Google is gradually rolling out its free offering, it won’t necessarily be possible to create meetings immediately, but you can sign up to be notified when the service is available.


Otherwise, it is always possible to use Hang Out, Google’s video conferencing service for the general public. However, the video call is limited to 10 participants. But Hangouts allows adding drawings and effects in the style of Snapchat…

Be efficient at home and take into account the needs of your colleagues and work partners with the training: 3-hour flat rate for planning and organizing your telework

Video conferencing classics: Skype and Teams

At Microsoft there are still the great classics of video conferencing such as Skype, also limited to 10 participants, or the collaborative work application Teams, which is also experiencing unprecedented growth. The number of daily active Teams users reached 75 million at the end of April 2020. There is also a free version for teams with no participant limit but with limited features (e.g. no screen sharing).

See also:

  • Webex, free to try, a trial version is also available,
  • Adobe Connect offers a 90-day trial.

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