Should I use Zoom or FaceTime? Here’s how to decide.


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Working from home can be tricky to get used to, especially when you’re just thrust into it out-of-the-blue, thanks to a global pandemic. Social distancing in order to combat the coronavirus can lead to a very different social life, too.

That’s where video calling comes in.

Many people are working remotely for the first time and are also unable to physically meet with family and friends. Video communication apps, software, and services have taken center stage as a critical resource to keep people connected during these times.

The truth, however, is that most people are still unfamiliar with the technology. You might see a lot of talk about Zoom right now. Do you need to use it? Oh look, you have FaceTime on your iPhone! Can’t you just go with that?

Let’s answer those questions.

What are you looking to do?

This is the first thing you need to ask yourself. If you miss your kids or your mom and dad and they have an iOS device, pick up your iPhone and call them on FaceTime. You’ve probably used the app before. It’s Apple’s simple video calling feature, and it’s available at no charge on the company’s iOS devices.

FaceTime Groups in action on an Apple iPad and iPhone

FaceTime Groups in action on an Apple iPad and iPhone

Image: apple

The majority of people will likely utilize FaceTime for personal calls. It provides a quick and easy way to jump into a realtime video call. Just open the app, tap on the contact you want to call, and you’re talking just like you would over the phone… but with video. 

Want to quickly ring your siblings into the conversation with Grandma? FaceTime recently got an update that allows up to 32 people to join in. For fun calls with the family or your friends, that should do the trick.

But when it comes down to it, FaceTime is basically a feature that adds video to a phone call. A service like Zoom is specifically set up to handle enterprise-level video conferencing. That’s probably what you want to go with for your work-at-home needs. 

There are some caveats, however, particularly when it comes to privacy with Zoom. Alternatives to check out that provide a similar service include BlueJeans, GoToMeeting, or Skype For Business. Since Zoom is the most popular of these services right now, we’re using it as our example of a video conferencing service.

Unlike FaceTime, which requires an Apple iOS device or a Mac, Zoom will work on Windows, Android, and even Linux along with Mac, iPhone, and iPad.

Zoom obviously does video calls like FaceTime, but that’s not all. Zoom is a full-on video conferencing service that allows users to share files, engage in text chats along with the video call, and share screens. Say you’re in a remote work meeting and trying to walk your coworkers through a project — you can see how being able to share files or visually show them what steps you’re taking on your own desktop might be extremely helpful.

The grid view in a Zoom meeting

The grid view in a Zoom meeting

Image: ZOOM

If you’re a teacher with a large class, conferencing services like Zoom are much better for you, too. Zoom has plans that allow for up to 1,000 participants to video chat together at the same time. There are even webinar plans that allow up to 10,000 viewers (who can watch but can’t participate in the discussion). The service even allows you to record each Zoom call, in case you’d like to make a class or meeting available on-demand afterward on a platform like YouTube.

Zoom provides more all-around control of the video chats, too. Administrators can schedule Zoom meetings and send out specific invites so you don’t have to call each individual person onto a video conference. Also, once you’re in the Zoom meeting, you can do things like mute participants or completely removal them from the call.

Hopefully, this all helps in deciding which platform is right for you. FaceTime is a feature that comes with your Apple device and is free to use. Zoom is a service that has a limited basic free plan, which removes the advanced features such as administrator controls and provides only time-limited group meetings. Its paid plans, which offer those advanced management features, recordings, unlimited meetings, and more start at $14.99 per month.

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