With so many remote offices, happy hours and coffee chats as a result of social distancing guidelines, it seems everybody is getting familiar with all of the group video conferencing platforms on the web. Here’s a breakdown of the most popular, so you can choose which one works best for your family, friends or team.

Zoom

How it Works: Allows for up to 100 participants at a time on basic plans. Its webinar feature (available with a paid plan) enables the host to present without video participation — only chat is allowed. You can also use virtual backgrounds and glamour filters to spruce up your call.

Getting Started: Create an account to host a meeting. Guests do not need an account to attend, and may call in or join by computer. Send your meeting link to participants via email, text or even social media.

Cost: Group calls free for first 40 minutes; paid plans start at $20.

Skype

How it Works: Owned by Microsoft, Skype can be used through your web browser or via a desktop app to video chat with your group of up to 50 people. Text chat available within the call.

Getting Started: Create an account online. Since this is a Microsoft program, the account can give you access to other free online Microsoft services. Generate an invitation link to send to participants.

Cost: Free.

Google Hangouts

How it Works: Part of the Google ecosystem, Hangouts is a video chat platform that allows for up to 10-25 people on the call, depending on your plan. You can text chat with participants in the call as well.

Getting Started: Access via your Google account. This is the same account used for Gmail, Google Drive and other online Google services. Invite participants directly via email, or send an invitation link.

Cost: Basic plan free; paid plans available.

Facebook Messenger

How it Works: Video chat with up to 50 people through Facebook Messenger app. You must be connected with them on Facebook or the Facebook Messenger app. While on the call you can play with filters, stickers and other fun features.

Getting Started: Log into your Facebook account and start a chat with the participants you’d like to call. Tap the video camera icon to dial them up.

Cost: Free.

FaceTime  

How it Works: For iOS and Mac users only. Convenient and straightforward way to communicate “face-to-face” with friends and family on Apple devices. For some extra fun, you can bring your “animoji” to life on the call.

Getting Started: It’s pre-installed in Apple devices — chat with up to 32 people at once. Start a FaceTime call from a group text by tapping the video camera icon, or start one right from the FaceTime app by adding participants by name.

Cost: Free for iOS and Mac.

Whether you connect for business or fun, these video conferencing platforms are perfect for groups of any size.

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