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Pandemic communication: Video chats come of age

The new way to stay in touchiStock
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The new way to stay in touch
Social distancing, wearing a mask when you step out of the house and using hand sanitizers have become an integral part of our lives and people are getting used to the new way of living. Social distancing has led to the popularity of video chats whether it is via WhatsApp, Google, Zoom or Houseparty. Here's a look at some of the popular apps that are being used by people across the world to stay connected with colleagues, friends and family.
Let's have a Houseparty
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Let's have a Houseparty
This app was launched in 2016 by Life on Air, Inc. Sima Sistani is the co-founder of this app. The company's initial focus was on teenagers but that changed with the pandemic leading to working from home. The app allows users to play games with other room members. One of the most popular games is Heads Up, where you give clues of a word that's on-screen and the participants have to guess as many words as possible before time runs out. Other games on Houseparty include Trivia, Chips and Guac, and Quick Draw! It also introduced Frames which helps the user change the background like Zoom. Unlike Zoom, in Houseparty the camera starts working as soon as you login.
Now hangout with friends
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Now hangout with friends
Want to meet your friend online for a quick chat? Just login to your Gmail account, go to your friend's Google Hangout and click on the video and start chatting! A person can also plan a meeting and send the link to their colleagues or friends who can join at the scheduled time. The only downside to this is that it can have a limited number of people in the video conference. Google has recently made it easier to start a meeting with Hangout by making the feature more prominent in Gmail.
You can Zoom, right?
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You can Zoom, right?
Zoom gained a lot of popularity when the lockdown started, all across the world. On one day in March 2020, the Zoom app was downloaded 2.13 million times. Revenues leaped 355% to $663.5 million for the three months ending July. Its profits soared to $186 million, while customer growth rose 458%, compared with the same period in 2019. The company has recently come up with new features which include new filters, noise cancellation, and the ability to adjust lighting. These are a part of its latest version 5.2. Zoom has also taken a leaf out of the social media playbook by adding a Reactions button at the bottom tab. The custom reactions include Clap, LOL, Thumbs Up, Ta-da, and Shocked. So popular is the app that its founder Eric Yuan is one of the 18 newcomers in the Forbes richest Americans list with a net worth of $11 billion.
Checkout Webex
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Checkout Webex
Webex was founded in 1995 and acquired by Cisco in 2007. It is one of the oldest communication devices. The registration to Webex too saw a boom when the pandemic began in March. Its products include Webex Meetings, Webex Teams, MeetMeNow, WebEx Connect and more. All its products are a part of the Cisco Systems. Earlier this month the company began Webex Classrooms which helps teachers and students plan classes, review curriculum, schedule classes etc.
Others in the race
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Others in the race
WhatsApp, Skype, FB Messenger, BlueJeans, Telegram and others are also popular video chatting apps. WhatsApp's closest rival Telegram has launched a video call facility. The feature is currently available in Telegram beta, and will officially arrive with version 7.0 of the application. Telegram video calls support picture-in-picture mode. WhatsApp chat video facility is limited to four people, unlike Microsoft's Skype that can have 150 participants.
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