When it comes to video conferencing platforms, Zoom has become the default option for most professionals and people looking to socialize virtually.
But it also presents some well-documented sticking points for many users, including the need to create an account and download and install software — not to mention its recent privacy and security challenges.
In this article, we’ll share what we learned about the platform and our tips for how to decide if it might be the right option for you.
But first, some context.
While it was already popular pre-coronavirus, Zoom saw a massive spike in users when the pandemic started growing.
Because professionals started relying on the platform even more heavily on account of mandatory working from home. And a lot of people also started using it on a regular basis to stay connected socially.
As a result, more than a dozen security and privacy problems emerged, not least of which being the now infamous trend of “Zoom bombing,” which saw uninvited guests joining meetings or chats — sometimes to unbelievably inappropriate outcomes.
While Zoom has put measures in place to resolve these problems, it’s still got users who have lost their confidence in the platform flocking to its competitors.
As we scoured for Zoom alternatives, we came across Whereby. Like Zoom, it’s a collaboration tool for professionals looking to host video meetings.
That description could be a blanket statement for all video conferencing platforms.
But what first struck us about Whereby was the fact that it’s received high-praise for its ease-of-use. When we looked closer, it also seemed a bit different than Zoom and its competitive counterparts in a number of other ways as well.
So, we put it to the test and gave it a side-by-side comparison with Zoom to see if it might be a worthy contender for people who wanted another video conferencing option.
While the platforms are fundamentally similar in their purpose, there are some notable differences between Zoom and Whereby.
Here are the five biggest ones we noticed.
1. Different privacy policies in different countries
One big (and currently very relevant) difference between Zoom and Whereby stems from their countries of origin.
Zoom was created in the United States, whereas Whereby is a Norwegian business. This means it’s operating under Norwegian privacy laws which are notoriously stricter than many other countries. As a generality, Norway is known for its heavy enforcement of GDPR (the General Data Protection Regulation).
Because of this, Whereby’s business model relies less heavily on widespread collection of user data.
On the other hand, Zoom is transparent in its use in its use of third party cookies as well as the fact that it stores data in the United States and that, if the company is sold, all its data goes to the buyer.
Understanding that many of our Launch Workplaces members have a heightened requirement for online security, we’d just recommend carefully examining the privacy policies for each platform and making an informed decision on which is best fitted to your needs.
2. Discrepancies between free versions
While Zoom and Whereby both offer similar features in their free versions (like screen sharing, chat, emojis, and the ability to boot or mute users), Whereby’s is notably less robust.
For instance, Zoom’s free version allows for video conferences with as many as 100 participants for meetings up to 40 minutes in duration.
Whereby’s free version limits meetings to four participants.
And even with the paid versions, you’re limited to either 12 or 50 participants. You also lack the ability to record your meeting on Whereby’s free version.
Pound for pound, Whereby’s paid versions are more expensive than Zoom’s when it comes to creating a level playing field with features.
3. Set-up and ease-of-use
One big point of contention that you often hear about Zoom (and most other video conferencing platforms) is that there’s a lot that goes into getting set up to use it.
For people who use video conferencing regularly, this isn’t a big of a deal. But if you’ve ever tried to coordinate a Zoom meeting with somebody who doesn’t use it often — or never has — you’ve probably found that it can be a big (and sometimes frustrating) task for the person you’re meeting with.
If you’re not big on having to download and install a platform, or if you frequently need to meet with people who don’t really use video conferencing, you’ll love Whereby.
Since the entire platform is web-based, you only need a URL to get access to a meeting.
As the meeting host, you just create a room, share your link, and you’re off to the races. There’s no downloading required whatsoever. And there’s no need to create an account to use it.
4. Video and audio quality
The same web-based technology that makes Whereby super user-friendly also serves up some downsides. Namely, what you gain in ease-of-use, you may sacrifice in audio/video quality. As a generality, you can expect some choppiness and delays on Whereby that you wouldn’t encounter on Zoom.
This means that hosting important client meetings or virtual presentations where you want to look ultra-professional may be best left for Zoom.
5. In-meeting privacy
As far as keeping your meetings private, you can expect a pretty similar experience with both Zoom and Whereby, with one small exception.
While Zoom allows you to lock your meetings to help avoid the notorious “Zoom bomb,” new guests won’t be able to join a locked room — even if they have the meeting ID and password.
Whereby allows you to lock your rooms, too, but you can still let new guests in. They’re just required to “knock” and be approved by the meeting administrator in order to enter.
That said, if you forget to “lock” your room on either platform, you might still get some unexpected (and unwanted) guests.
Our overarching finding after testing out Whereby is that, while both platforms offer the same fundamental service, there are definitely differentiators that might make one right for you while the other isn’t.
Overall, Whereby absolutely is a viable contender as an alternative for Zoom for those who simply need a basic video conferencing solution. On the other hand, while you might be skeptical of Zoom due to its recent bad press, it may still be your best option if you have higher demands for your video conferencing platform.
At Launch Workplaces, our goal is to help you maximize your productivity and get more done. To learn more about how our spaces can help you make the most of every workday, just get in touch with us.