You don’t have to pay for video conferencing.
If resources are tight, or you prefer to spend your video dollar on high-quality cameras and conference room equipment, the top free video conference apps for business will provide the fundamentals of business video calling at no cost. On the best of these platforms, you can screen share and send messages. You can make group calls and connect to your online calendar. In short, you can do everything you need to do to run a successful online virtual meeting.
All the services below have genuine free tiers that don’t come with any time limit. You’ll find that there are free trials available for all the leading video conferencing platforms, but if you want to adopt a longer-term solution, the apps on our list are the ones to investigate.
Keep in mind, however, that all of these products are gateway platforms designed to get you familiar with the service in the hope you’ll scale-up to the paid version someday–subscriptions are the revenue lifeblood for all these generous companies.
Subscription vs. Free Video Calling
The digitization of business has given rise to a consumer-driven economy of short-term, cloud-based video conferencing offerings. Platforms like Zoom and BlueJeans, Lifesize and Slack can compete with giants like Microsoft because their products are easy to install, easy to use, and come with no overheads or long-term investment.
The downside is that all the most popular video platforms now come at a cost. Even if that cost is as low as $3 per user/per month (Zoho Cliq), you will have to pay something to get full access to a complete video conferencing package.
The free vs. subscription video calling debate will ultimately be settled by your own budget constraints. However, if you need a bargain or you just want a reliable short-term video solution, the services below are presentable business alternatives.
The Top Free Video Conference Apps for Business
Cyberlink U Meeting
Cyberlink U Meeting
This ambitious platform claims to be the “social media of business” but is at heart a solid business video conferencing app with some nice social features around the edges. Cyberlink U Meeting is a subscription service, but it has one of the most generous free versions you’ll find. Without paying a cent, you can stage group calls with up to 25 people, make use of 2GB of cloud storage, record video calls, share screens and browser windows, and get the protection of end-to-end encryption.
The app will work across the iOS/Android and smartphone/desktop divides and performed well enough in our own experience to warrant serious consideration as a long-term video solution without the need to upgrade to a paid service.
Just over a year after Microsoft abandoned its Skype for Business brand and introduced its workplace collaboration app Teams, it started offering a version of the new Teams service for free. And it is a very generous offer at that.
Free Teams is a better offer than some paid services.
Whatever the motivation, free Teams is well worth your interest. Without any investment, you get:
- Access for up to 300 people
- Unlimited video calls
- Screen sharing
- 12GB of personal and team cloud storage
- Unlimited message searches and third-party apps
That’s a better offer than some paid services, and it’s the type of deal you can make when you have the resources to give away expensive server space. Of course, the paid version of Teams offers more, but you might find the free version offers enough.
Appear.In will get you into a free video conference in around two minutes. It is a WebRTC-based video app that uses your browser’s built-in tech to host and join calls without any downloads or plugins–or accounts. You just create your own video link and send it to up to four people you need to see urgently.
There are more features available in the subscription tiers of Appear.In, such as branded rooms and recording.
Once inside the customizable video meeting rooms, you can access screen sharing, messaging, lockable security measures, and the ability to add callers to a meeting in progress. There are more features available in the subscription tiers, such as branded rooms and recording, but the free version should serve you well as a commitment-free way to make conference calls–as long as the groups you plan to chat with remain small.
Slack may have changed the way video is incorporated into our everyday workflows, but it’s not keen on sharing its success for free. Perhaps the most frugal service on this list, Slack’s free version is more about the surrounding collaborative workspace platform than about video calling capacity. That’s because video conferencing within the free version of Slack is restricted to one-on-one calls. You still get a lot of cloud storage and access to up to ten free third-party apps and integrations, you just don’t get to share that good fortune with many people at once.
We still value the offer for the ability to build your own virtual workspace within Slack’s innovative design and to utilize its groundbreaking chat and instant video tools. It just would have been nicer if we could have held a team meeting online.
Synonymous with video conferencing for more than a decade, Skype continues to be the cheapest way to make a respectable business video call. That’s because it is, and likely will always be, free. Technically, you could argue that its most advanced features–such as translation, background blur, and a fleet of chatbots–are watered-down versions of what you’ll find behind the Teams paywall, but they’re present nonetheless. What is more, they really do help you make a professional standard video call.
Skype is still a reliable, professional-grade video conferencing app that anyone can access.
The upper limit on group call capacity was recently raised to 50, which gives you plenty of room to host a serious meeting. You can also link it with all your Microsoft Office apps, security has recently been improved, you can include callers who don’t have a Skype account, and there are free third-party apps available to add call recording and multimedia displays.
Skype was given a social media-friendly facelift by Microsoft in its 2017 update to make a clearer distinction between it and the serious business product Teams, but if you can see past the new color scheme, this is still a reliable, professional-grade video conferencing app that anyone can access.
Speaking of that social-media makeover, there’s one other category of free video conferencing that has taken hold in recent years–social calling.
The Best Free Video Conference Apps for Social Chat
Video conferencing has been something of a “must have” feature among the chat apps lately. Though these services are still dominated by messaging, image sharing, and video, all the leading apps now include group video calling. Only Google Duo is still just one-on-one, and even that may soon change.
We’ve previously discussed the pros and cons of the best group video calling apps currently available, and they’re all free. The following list is our introduction to the best social calling experiences around.
Facebook Messenger: Arguably the best all-around video experience you can have on a smartphone app, Facebook Messenger has extra-large group call capacity and innovative features like the ability to add someone to a video call while it’s in progress.
FaceTime: The default iOS offering roared back to relevance with a recent expansion to group calls.
WhatsApp: Video is more of an add-on to WhatsApp than a feature presentation, but it performs well.
LINE: The LINE app is a cavernous social media app that is both video imitator and innovator.
Kik: The Kik app offers a standard smartphone experience improved by the ability to digitally multitask during video calls.
Instagram and Snapchat: As newcomers to video calling, both apps have stayed close to the basics, but we suspect there’s more to come from these social media giants in the near future.