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Tech tips

Tech tip: How to video conference from your Android phone

Your home office is already set up and, of course, the one thing you forgot was a webcam. Now what?

Well, first things first: Make sure you didn’t forget anything else. Tap or click here for 5 essential Coronavirus work-from-home tips to make sure you’re set up the right way.

Now, if you want to take video calls with your coworkers or clients, it’s time to either face the crowds at the store (if you can find one open) or wait for a webcam to ship. Or you can use your Android smartphone to take part in all those video conferences, instead.

Not sure how? We’re here to help. Let’s start with the most popular app, Zoom.

Setting up and using Zoom

Zoom is a video conference app with a long list of features and plans to help you communicate with anyone from a personal friend to a business-wide meeting with up to 500 participants. Unless you’re a business owner, you won’t have to worry about paying for the service. Just download the app for free.

The free service includes the following:

  • Host up to 100 participants
  • Unlimited one-on-one meetings
  • 40 minute limit for group meetings
  • Unlimited meetings
  • Online support
  • HD video
  • AES 256-bit encryption to keep your data safe

For more details on video conferencing, group collaboration, web conferencing and security features, visit Zoom’s plans and pricing page.

Installing Zoom and jumping into a video conference can be done in just a few simple steps:

  1. Download Zoom from the Google Play store.
  2. Open the Zoom app.
  3. If you do not already have an account, sign up for a Zoom account and sign in. (You can still join a Zoom meeting without an account, just use a Meeting ID.)
  4. Tap Start meeting.
  5. Toggle Use Personal Meeting ID (PMI) on.
  6. Tap Start a Meeting.

Once you start a meeting, send out a link and your unique Personal Meeting ID to have others join. If others invite you to meetings, simply respond to the invite following the on-screen steps.

A warning: Zoom meeting links are public URLs just like any other. If yours gets into the wrong hands and you haven’t adjusted your settings, someone can take over your screen. Tap or click here for the setting you need to change.

Skype

Microsoft’s Skype has been a heavyweight in the video-conferencing world for quite some time, and for good reason: Microsoft’s service is free, easy to use and provides all the necessary video calling features to work from home out of the box.

Skype’s most popular features include, but aren’t limited, to:

  • Audio and HD video calling with up to 50 people
  • Call recording and live subtitles
  • Smart messaging
  • Call phones, including landlines and international calling, at an affordable rate
  • Screen sharing to make presentations easy
  • Private calling with industry-standard encryption

Installing Skype and setting up a group call is easy and can be done with just a few taps:

  1. Download Skype from the Google Play store.
  2. Open the Skype app.
  3. If you do not already have a Microsoft or Skype account, sign up for one and sign in.
  4. From your Calls list, tap new call.
  5. Select the people you’d like to call.
  6. Tap the Call button.

Want to make a group video call on Skype? Here’s a quick how-to video:

You may also like: Free work at home tools

Webex

Cisco’s Webex software is similar in prices and features to Zoom, and it’s a popular option with large businesses. Webex has plans for every user, from its free service for smaller-scale meetings and conferences to enterprise-grade video conferences between hundreds of people.

We recommend downloading the free version and letting your boss foot the bill for all those paid plans. If you’re curious or you own a business, visit Webex’s plans and pricing page for more information.

Here’s a quick video on Webex’s features:

Like Zoom, the most popular package is their free Personal service, which includes:

  • Meetings of up to 100 participants
  • Unlimited meeting length
  • Call-in for audio
  • Unlimited meetings
  • HD video
  • Collaboration support, from whiteboards to file sharing
  • AES 256-bit encryption

Installing Webex and hosting a video conference requires only a few things:

  1. Download Webex from the Google Play store.
  2. Open the Webex app.
  3. If you do not already have a Webex account, sign up for one and sign in.
  4. From the My Meetings screen, tap Schedule Meeting.
  5. Either begin the meeting now or schedule it for later.

Participants can join meetings from invitation emails, by entering your meeting number on an Android device or by clicking Join from the My Meetings screen within the app.

Google Hangouts

In addition to Duo, Google’s longstanding Hangouts service is another widely-used video conferencing app for personal and professional calls. It’s a free service open to anyone with a Google account, perfect for all you Gmail users.

Hangouts offers all the usual video calling features you might expect, but Google’s ecosystem also allows you to share documents with Drive, generate presentations with Slides and creating documents with Docs.

Google Hangouts’ most popular features include:

  • Group calls up of to 10 participants
  • Messaging support for up to 150 participants
  • Google Voice integration for phone calls, texting, and voicemail integration
  • HD video
  • Built-in screen sharing
  • Encryption between your device and Google’s servers

Here’s how to install Hangouts:

  1. Download Google Hangouts off the Google Play Store.
  2. Open the Hangouts app.
  3. If you do not already have a Google account, create one and sign in.
  4. Tap Add, New conversation, then New group.
  5. Select the names, phone numbers or email addresses of the people you’d like to add to the call.
  6. Tap Done.

Google offers a premium version of Hangouts called Hangouts Meet, which usually comes along with a $25 monthly price tag. Through July, Google is offering the service for free. Host larger meetings with up to 250 people, live stream events and even record them.

Hangouts Meet works nearly identically within the Hangouts Meet app. Download the app, sign into your Google account, tap New meeting, then Join meeting. You can generate a meeting code, and share your link or a call-in line with participants.

As those of us who are suddenly working from home can attest, staying in contact with colleagues and business associates isn’t the only thing made more complicated by quarantine — so is staying in touch with friends and loved ones. Tap or click here to learn how to host virtual get-togethers with family and friends.

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