The big question I will be asking today is this: does Skype still reign supreme in the video call world?
Everyone knows Skype. Most people I know, both in business and personally, have a Skype account. I myself have two – one personal and one professional. It is so popular now, that Skype is no longer a noun, but a verb. No one thinks twice about saying, ‘Hold on, let me Skype you’. But the reigning monarch of video calling is being challenged. I have been looking at two alternatives to Skype this week: Google Hangouts and the Audio/Visual chat on Podio.
Why is Skype so great?
Skype is renowned, accessible in most parts of the world with a viable internet connection and allows a range of features: from a basic video call, to screen sharing, document sharing and more. Making it ideal for both personal and business environments. This is exactly why it is so popular, and only increases in it’s popularity.
Ssh… Industry Expert Tip! Our Executive Coach, Colin Duncan, is a strong advocate for Skype. He says that the key features for business are: “You can put a face to a name, therefore you are more memorable. My favourite feature is the ability to communicate internationally.”
Why would you need an alternative to Skype?
Skype is such a well established tool, it seems difficult to understand why anyone would need an alternative. A bit like asking why would anyone choose Pepsi over Coca Cola. But the fact of the matter is, Skype does have some flaws. I received a phone call today from a client who couldn’t connect to Skype because he, ‘lives in Dubai and it is somewhat still… illegal’.
From an international business perspective, this is a massive problem – so I decided, as a complete novice, to explore two viable alternatives.
Podio: Audio/Visual chat function
After discovering how Podio was so good for social media management, I was keen to explore the recent adaptation to the chat function: enabling audio and visual services, as well as the regular instant messaging.
– Like all aspects of Podio, it is extremely simple to navigate. Once you have installed the right ‘plug in’ and click ‘run downloaded file’ (I’m not that technologically savvy at all, and could still do this!) it is so straightforward. Simply go to your contact list on the right hand side of the screen, click the contact you want to call and click the little video camera icon. Really couldn’t be more logical – as a novice to a new system, just what you want.
– It does an efficient job of a clear, one to one video call.
– It is only a one on one chat. Which, in the Career Intelligence business environment is ideal – but for conference calls with multiple participants… not great.
– You can’t screen share with only the basic Podio – you need to pay more for ‘GoToMeeting’. Screen sharing is a huge part of our coaching process, so for Career Intelligence, this feature lacking is not ideal – I think the same would apply to many of you looking to conduct a video call.
– It isn’t available on tablets or smartphones – making video calling on the move a no-go (until the end of the year when this function is promised to be released).
Google+ is increasing in popularity and if you already have a Gmail account, Google + and Google Hangouts are really straightforward to download and get up and running.
Ssh… Industry Expert Tip! Career Intelligence’s Mr-All-Things-Technical, Jamie McDermott, says that Google Hangouts: “As a user and advocate of all-things-Google it comes as no surprise to my colleagues that I love Google+ Hangouts. The quality of video and presentations are better than any other system, even when your internet signal is poor, and the ability to record sessions straight to your YouTube channel is perfect for anyone who wants to share a meeting or conference call.”
– Such a easy to navigate layout. Again, from your Google+ homepage, Hangouts appears as a bar down the right hand side. Users online are easily visible – just click on a contact, and simply click the video camera icon – easy.
– You can remotely access a desktop (with permission, of course)!
– You can screenshare too, so share documents and files. This is a feature on Skype which our Executive Coaches use in their sessions nearly every day – fantastic to know it is available through another medium.
– You can install a plethora of other apps to suit your needs. Literally hundreds. During my brief introduction to the video service I noticed, for instance, you can install and use Google Drive simultaneously as your video call. As Google Drive is something I personally use every day, this is ideal.
– There is a good quality video image, a basic essential for a video call.
– You can have multiple users in one call, which would be brilliant for conference calling multiple clients or colleagues.
– I found it really difficult to think of a negative point for Google Hangouts. I think the programme is very akin to Skype in its services and seems very straightforward to use. However, this might be because I am a devoted, staunch, Gmail and Google Drive user. I am used to the Google layout. Those who don’t use Gmail might struggle with the layout of Google+ slightly – but not for long, I’m sure!
THE SCORE: 9/10
I think that yes, Skype will, for the time being, reign supreme. It is such a brilliant tool, has great dependency for a clear video chat, and is (pretty much) worldwide. If one were looking, however, for an alternative – I can’t advocate Google Hangouts enough. If more people were on Google+, I think I would use this more than Skype…
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