Here are some resources on how to host virtual get-togethers:
The following is from Resource (1) below from the New York Times:
It’s understandable that people are looking to the internet to lessen feelings of social isolation. Not only does an evening “event” help give the day structure, but seeing friendly faces can be a lifeline for people who miss their friends and loved ones.
Whether you’re having a cozy chat with your far-flung besties, or plan on dropping in to a video chat room filled with dozens of strangers, here’s what to know about having a successful virtual happy hour.
There is a variety of platforms you can use to get everyone together: Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts and Zoom, to name a few. Ms. Lawlor chose Zoom to host her virtual happy hour. She recommends using the grid view in any teleconferencing software, as it will let you see everyone at once in equal-size boxes.
You’ve been told to meet via webcam, and everyone you know uses Zoom.
But maybe you don’t like the Zoom feature that lets bosses check to see if you’ve been paying attention in a meeting or tweeting in another browser window. Or you’re concerned about the sad new trend of “Zoombombing“*a public call?
Or it’s just that all of your friends are partial to another messaging platform.
What other options are there for you?
Plenty. So today, as a public service, we offer your guide to the top Zoom competitors.
Messenger, WhatsApp and Duo are aimed primarily at one-to-one chats or even small groups, not team meetings, as is Apple’s FaceTime*, which comes pre-loaded on iPhones, so let’s focus here on the main alternatives to Zoom: Hangouts, Teams and Skype.
*FaceTime is only available on Apple devices but not on Android, therefore I’ve chosen not to link to it nor to use it.
Both Hangouts and Skype are the victims of neglect by their corporate owners. Google has made various announcements that it plans to discontinue the Hangouts consumer app, as soon as this year, but people continue using it and are downloading it en masse. Google didn’t offer much clarification on Hangouts’ future when USA TODAY inquired. “No changes are happening right now,” is what the company told us.
Microsoft has said its Skype for Business offshoot will sunset in 2021 and is looking to push users to Teams. It hasn’t updated the classic consumer version of Skype since August.
Let’s clear up the confusion. There are two Google Hangouts apps on the app charts, Google Hangouts Meet and classic Hangouts*. If you’re a student who is looking for a way to do online learning, a PTA group looking to connect and the like, steer clear of Hangouts Meet.
It’s (generally) not for you [meaning Hangouts Meet].
*Google plans to phase out classic Hangouts and everyone will have to transition to Hangouts Meet which will involve a monthly subscription fee for G-Suite.
Google launched Hangouts in 2013, and in 2017 it introduced the enterprise-targeted Hangouts Meet as a place to “develop relationships with your team regardless of where they are in the world.” Meetings can be started only by subscribers to G Suite, which starts at $6 monthly and gives subscribers corporate e-mail and access to programs like Hangouts Meet and “secure chat” with Google Hangouts Chat. (Google says it is providing free access to Hangouts Meet capabilities through July 1.)
(2) Zoom alternatives: what about Hangouts, Skype and Teams? By Jefferson Graham from USA TODAY, March 21, 2020.
(3) Eating alone, together: Virtual dinner parties are helping people fight isolation.
By Emily Heil, March 21, from The Washington Post.
Additional resources coming soon.