April Tech Review: Zoom

Google Zoom is a video conferencing application used on any device with or without a webcam. Zoom provides the option to attend what they call a “meeting” with or without audio, and with or without video. You can have as few as two participants, and as many as 100 with the basic plan. Upgrading to a premium plan for large corporations will allow for up to 500 participants.

Zoom Basic

Zoom has become the new normal. We “hang out” with our friends, “visit” our family, and attend meetings all from the palm of our hand. It allows us to stay connected with each other while still practicing social distancing. Zoom is free for everyone if you stick with their basic plan. The basic plan allows you anywhere from two to 100 participants, security on all meetings, unlimited meetings, and free support. The basic plan is great for anyone that is looking to have a quick meeting. However, there is a time limit to any Zoom Basic video meeting. After 40 minutes, the meeting will end and someone will have to begin a second meeting to pick up where you left off.

Zoom Pro

Zoom Pro offers several benefits that Zoom Basic does not, since it is a paid option. It includes 100 participants by default. If you need more than that, you can increase your plan in increments to include more people. Another helpful feature of the Pro version is that you can schedule meetings ahead of time. For example, I work part time at a dance studio. We run 10-20 classes a week online. My director and I scheduled out all the classes ahead of time so that the students, parents, and teachers all have the same link ahead of time. Every week, we use the same link for easy access so we can start and end on time.

Another feature of Zoom Pro is that you can manage whoever attends the meeting. If you’re the host and need to leave the meeting, you can assign someone else as the host and leave without ending the meeting. The only thing you can’t do is start another meeting while that meeting is going on. We learned that the hard way. As the host, you can also manage who has the ability to share their screen, who can mute/unmute themselves, and who is allowed into the meeting. If the “waiting room” is enabled, anyone attending the meeting late will enter there first, then once approved by the host can enter the meeting.

Zoom Before April 2020

Now that everyone is home, Zoom has made its top priority producing a product that will perform under the mass pressure of millions of users. The newest update introduces security features that weren’t in place before this month. The goal is to try to prevent what is called, “Zoom-bombing.” Zoom-bombing is the act of a person entering a random Zoom meeting because they put in a random meeting ID and it just so happened to be your meeting. Sometimes this can be accidental, but most of the time it is intentional. People do this to be malicious, offensive, and disruptive. It is vitally important to set passwords on all meetings that are randomized to prevent Zoom-bombers from entering your meeting.

Overall, Zoom is a good product to bring people together online. There are other alternatives as well, such as Microsoft Teams on a business level. On a basic level, Group FaceTime is an alternative as long as everyone attending has a newer iPhone. Zoom breaks down the Android vs. iPhone barrier and allows everyone to connect through the same application.