Gone are the days where executives and sales personnel were constantly forced to catch redeye flights to distant locations for a battery of meetings and conferences. Thanks to web video technology, you can attend a conference or meeting anywhere in the world from the comfort of your own phone.
Here's a look at 5 of today's best web conferencing apps that work with both Android and iPhone.
This app brings you face-to-face with co-workers and other professionals by conferencing with individuals, giving or receiving training, and attend meetings without stepping outside your office. Reviews say that this app offers everything customers want for a very reasonable price.
App features allow you to record sessions, text chat, and cooperatively edit documents with colleagues. Some complaints about the app include that you can only view 6 people on the screen at a time, and it is not compatible with Kindle Fire HD. The app is available for Android and iPhone.
The most basic level of service, which accommodates up to three people, is free but works only with Google Chrome. More advanced packages range in price from $16-$56 per user/month. If you're interested but tentative, you can always start with a 30-day free trial.
Skype is one of the world's best-known online communication services. The app is available for Android, iPhone, and most other operating systems. Many people use Skype to make free face-to-face calls with family and friends at home.
Skype has some terrific business applications, as well. You can use Skype to conference with up to 25 colleagues at a time. A basic account does not include group video chat, video or voice messaging, and the text chat lacks photos, but it is free. If you want to take advantage of more advanced features like voicemail and call forwarding, you'll need a paid subscription. Rates in the U.S go as low as $2.99 per month.
Join.me has topped Skype in bandwidth, allowing 250 users to share materials simultaneously in its Pro version. The app is similar to Skype in its intent: to provide simple, free web conferencing, chat, and file/screen sharing. One of Join.me's greatest perks is that you needn't download any software or register your personal information to use it, although you will need to install an app viewer if you're using iPhone or Android.
The basic service is free, but you can choose to upgrade to Join.me Pro if you want added benefits like window sharing, presenter swapping, and meeting lock. If you like what you see after a free trial, you can get a subscription; rates vary from $13-$19 per user/month. When asked to list the cons of this app, a number of customers couldn’t think of any.
This app also lets you begin or join meetings right from your phone. You don’t need any pins or passwords either. A unique feature that comes with this app is that it syncs itself with your calendar so that your existing ReadyTalk meetings will show up on there. It’s impossible for you to miss a meeting with this app especially with its 30 second reminders that go off before a meeting is about to start. And you can even add your frequently used conference number to your favorites.
A number of reviews on Google Play say this app is perfect; they love being able to access meetings on the go and not have to remember numbers as well. One complaint was that it sometimes causes phones to lock without reason.
Google + Hangouts
Perhaps the least formal of all these web conferencing apps is Google + Hangouts. This app theoretically works for professionals and students, but is geared more toward the individual. Groups of people can unite on Google + Hangouts to watch YouTube videos, text chat, and make video conference calls. The app is downloadable for phone from Google Play and the iTunes app store. Google + Hangouts has been called the "cooler, older sibling of Google Voice."
App ownership is free, but if you're a professional looking to upgrade your Google connections, you can get Google Apps for Business or Google Apps for Government for $5 or less per month. The only con that was listed for this app by users was that you cannot kick an inappropriate user out of a video chat, but the pros stated that it is very easy and fun to use.
It's a buyer's market when it comes to picking the right web conferencing app to fit your needs. Whether you need to conference for professional, educational, or personal reasons, you can select from a buffet of affordable choices that suit all of your devices. Wading through your options is the hardest part; once you find what you need, your workload should lighten considerably.
JT Ripton is a business consultant and a freelance writer who enjoys writing about a myriad of topics, business and technology being a couple of them. Ripton has written for companies like T-Mobile and others, you can follow him on Twitter @JTRipton.