These are strange times. With socializing as the order of the day, the search for the best video conferencing apps has reached new levels. While Skype and Google Duo (see Google Duo tips and tricks) used to be the ubiquitous selections for video conferencing back in the day, there are quite a few new names now: Zoom and Houseparty. While many see Zoom as a video chatting app for business users, Houseparty is for fun-loving individuals.
But in the end, they both serve the same purpose – making video calls to your friends and family over video.
So, which video conferencing app to use – Zoom or Houseparty? Well, that is what we will find out in this post.
Ease of access
One of the primary things you look for in an app is ease of access. How easy is it to set a call? Or, how easy is it for others to join the call?
In the case of Zoom, let’s just say it’s not a one-step process for setting up a call or meeting, and that’s right. It was previously designed for commercial users. Thus, you will have to go through the process of setting up meetings beforehand.
And just like any other meeting tool, you’ll need to invite participants or share the meeting link and password with them.
In short, for the first time, it can be very stressful.
While you can set up instant meetings using a feature called Meet Now, you still have to share your personal meeting ID with your instant meeting invitees.
But the good thing is that you can copy and share the details via mail or chat services like WhatsApp and Messages.
On the other hand, Houseparty takes a simpler approach. Here you will have to add friends. There are two options now. First, you can invite your contacts from your phonebook. Or you can also link your Facebook account and add your friends from there.
Once you launch the app, your friends will be notified that you are ‘at home’. So, those friends who are already at home can tap on the notification to start a ‘party’ session.
If the house party is in progress, you will be able to see it when you swipe up on the screen. Yes, it is that simple.
On the downside, you cannot share URLs or party links with your contacts who are not at home.
number of participants
Even WhatsApp and FaceTime let you video chat with your friends. So, why look for some other apps? It all depends on the number of participants.
Houseparty doubles the number of participants and lets you add up to eight people per room. Yes, a real riot! But yes, if you have a huge group, you may have to leave a few members behind when you plan a party.
Being a business tool, Zoom allows you to add more than 100 participants in a single call, even on the free plan. Yes, a big party (**wink wink**). However, note that each Zoom meeting can only last about 40 minutes. So, if you run out of the forty minutes, you will have to plan a new meeting.
So where are these two apps available?
For starters, Houseparty is available for iOS and Android. So you can install it on your phone right away. If you want a little more surface area for videos, you can also download and install it on an Android tablet like the Galaxy Tab S6.
On the other hand, Zoom app is not only available for Android and iOS users, but it is also available for Windows and macOS users. This gives you the independence to take your calls from virtually anywhere.
For example, if you want to attend a meeting from the comforts of your laptop, and take notes at the same time, Zoom makes it possible.
Video calling features – screen sharing and games
So far we’ve talked about accessibility and platform availability. But what about the features?
When it comes to Zoom, it comes with many useful features. But let me make it clear first that these features are only tuned towards team meetings and video conferencing.
So, you can record your meetings (PC only), share your screen with attendees, and save your recordings, among others. More importantly, if you are not comfortable with background sharing, you can also set a default wallpaper in place to hide it.
And the best thing is that you can choose from many wallpapers. Moreover, you can also upload your own file. Fabulous, isn’t it?
Houseparty, which is designed for the casual users in you, does not have such complicated features. On the upside, there are many interesting toys in its box.
Yes, apart from catching up with your friends, you can also play cool games like Heads Up, Trivia, Chips, Guac and Quick Draw.
I am a fan of Quick Draw. You get a small canvas to draw. You have to draw and your friends have to guess. Quite the game to pass the time if you ask me.
One of the most important elements of Houseparty is that anyone on your friends list can come and join your party. So you have to make sure the room is locked. Fortunately, the option is at the bottom of the screen.
When it comes to Zoom, you have to make sure that your meetings are private and secure to save yourself from Zoombombing. Yes, this is a term.
First, make sure that the zoom meeting details such as the link or meeting ID are not shared on a public platform. And even if you use later, you have to be careful and use a random identifier each time.
Leisure or work
Zoom and Houseparty cater to two different groups of users. If you want to catch up with your buddies, I recommend Zoom as it is available across multiple platforms. Second, while setting up a meeting is complicated, it has its advantages. If you are in the mood for fun, you should definitely give Houseparty a chance.
Note that both apps have had their share of privacy issues. In the last week of March, several users accused Houseparty of hacking and using their data to access other paid apps like Netflix and Spotify, among others. There is no evidence of the breach, but the app does collect an alarming amount of personal data.
On the privacy front, Zoom is also attracting the wrong kind of attention. Since the issues were posted, Zoom has made several changes. One of them involves the release of new software aimed at enhancing security. Additionally, they have brought Alex Stamos on board as a security advisor.
So, which app would you choose? Would you agree with the above, or would you choose a more popular app like Google Duo and Skype?