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Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Zoom Meetings has exploded to become one of the top video conferencing platforms since the pandemic started. It’s the backbone of online education, the way we conduct our meetings, and even a handy method to stay in touch with family members. Many people may not have a good grasp of what Zoom Meetings is and what it can do. Well, here’s everything you’ve ever wanted to know.

One of the biggest challenges that Zoom Meetings aims to tackle is communication between remote workers. We’ve all experienced our fair share thanks to COVID-19, and video software continues to make life a little easier.

What is Zoom Meetings?

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No, we didn’t have a lapse in grammar for this section. The product name is actually Zoom Meetings, not just Zoom. So what is Zoom Meetings? It’s a video conferencing platform from a company called Zoom. It allows employees of a company to have online meetings while working remotely. The software allows for HD video and audio and supports up to 1,000 participants per session, although the exact number depends on the plan you have — more on this later.

Zoom Meetings has all the features a company needs to hold online meetings, no matter how big or small. Participants can join in from a computer or a mobile device anywhere in the world as long as they have an internet connection. They can turn their cameras on so others can see them or keep them off to preserve some privacy. Each individual can also control their microphone to give whoever is speaking their undivided attention. Zoom Meeting offers loads of other useful features, some of which you can check out below.

The main features of Zoom Meetings:

  • Record meeting: Make a recording of any meeting with the push of a button. You can save a recording locally on a device or upload it to the cloud. This allows employees who couldn’t attend the live meeting/webinar to check it out later.
  • Screen sharing: Participants can share their screens with others, which comes in handy for various presentations and educational workshops.
  • Chat: Every Zoom Meeting has an integrated chat feature, allowing participants to communicate during a meeting and ask questions.
  • Virtual hand-raising: When you want to speak or ask a question, you can signal it to the host by raising your hand virtually. This improves communication during a meeting, preventing multiple people from talking at once.
  • Polls: A host can create a poll and share it with participants in the meeting to gather their responses and opinions on a given topic. This comes in handy for voting on various business-related decisions, for example.
  • Mute participants: The host of a meeting has the ability to mute the mic of any participant. This is a vital feature used when someone forgets they have the mic and their children are screaming in the background, for example.

See also: How to set up and use Zoom: Everything you need to know

Other features include Virtual Backgrounds that allow you to set an image or video as your background during a meeting. It’s a great option for those who don’t want people to see the inside of their apartment. Then there’s Touch Up My Appearance, which is basically a filter that smooths out your skins, making you look more handsome for that important meeting.

As far as privacy is concerned, Zoom Meetings has you covered. It supports end-to-end encryption that ensures no one can snoop on your meetings — not even the company itself.

You can also add a few extensions to Zoom Meetings if you need even more flexibility within the software. Right now, you can add Firefox, Chrome, or Safari for browser support. If you’d also want email, Zoom offers Gmail, Outlook, and Office 365 plug-ins.

How much does Zoom Meetings cost?

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Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

The good news for most people is that Zoom Meetings has a free plan available. However, it has a lot of limitations in place, making it unsuitable for most businesses. The free plan lets you host up to 100 participants and participate in unlimited one-on-one meetings, which are both essential benefits. Unfortunately, the problem comes in the form of a strict 40-minute time limit on all meetings.

If that’s no good for you, you’ll have to open your wallet and get ready to pay up. Pricing is affordable, though, starting at just $14.99 per month per host. You can check out all the pricing plans along with the features each one includes in the image below.

Keep in mind that the pricing is per host, not per participant. This means you don’t need to pay a monthly fee for every participant that joins a meeting or webinar. People can join for free, but the meeting host — the one who sets up a meeting — has to pay a monthly subscription. The more hosts a company has, the higher the monthly bill is. Keep in mind any user can host even without paying; they’ll just be restricted to all the free plan features (like a call no longer than 40 minutes.)

It’s worth noting that each plan also offers various add-ons. These include increasing the number of participants that can join a meeting, the option to add extra cloud recording storage, and more.

Is Zoom Meetings worth it?

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Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

You’re probably wondering why you’d want to pay for Zoom Meetings if I can opt for a free service like Skype instead. Well, there are several reasons why that’s not the best idea.

See also: Not sold on Zoom? Here are the 8 best alternatives to try

While Skype is free and doesn’t have a time limit in place for meetings like the free version of Zoom, it has many other limitations. The first one is that only 50 people can join a group chat, making the software unsuitable for many mid-sized companies. You also can’t mute the microphones of any of the participants in a call, which is a feature you definitely need during large online business meetings — trust us on this one.

Skype isn't great for online business meetings and webinars.

There are other business-oriented features Skype and other similar services lack, including the ability to raise a hand when someone wants to speak, among many others. Skype is designed for personal and not business use. If you frequently have online meetings, especially with multiple people, we suggest paying a monthly fee for software like Zoom Meetings. We use it regularly here at Android Authority and love it. It’s definitely worth the starting price of $14.99 per month.

However, Zoom isn’t the only video conferencing software available. Skype’s owner Microsoft offers Microsoft Teams, which combines video conferencing and messaging into one service that also includes many other features. Google’s Hangouts Meet is a great option, but it’s a part of the company’s G Suite subscription that includes additional cloud storage space and other features. Other options include GoToMeeting and Zoho Meeting, as well as many others.

See also: The 5 best video conferencing apps for Android

What is a Zoom Room?

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Zoom Meetings isn’t the only service the company offers. It also has Zoom Rooms, which refers to the hardware setup (monitors, cameras, etc.) required to launch Zoom Meetings in a company’s conference room.

Zoom Rooms are aimed at large companies.

The Zoom Rooms service requires an additional monthly fee ($49 per room) on top of what you’re already paying for the Zoom Meetings software. It includes what the company calls a Zoom Rooms Scheduling Display used to view upcoming meetings and schedule new ones. Additionally, it comes with Digital signage that allows you to share images, videos, and URLs to the screens in a Zoom Room when you’re not using them for a Zoom meeting.

See also: Zoom Meetings: 10 tips and tricks you should know about

Zoom Rooms are designed for larger companies with hundreds or even thousands of employees. They can rapidly become an expensive setup since you need to purchase the monitors, microphones, and all the other required hardware separately — they’re not part of the $49 monthly subscription. Those interested in the equipment needed and recommended by Zoom can head here to learn more.

What is Zoom Chat?

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As if video calling and conferencing weren’t enough, you can also tap Zoom to replace your workplace IM system. Zoom Chat is the company’s alternative to services like Slack, and it’s one of the newer weapons in the Zoom arsenal.

See also: The 6 most common Zoom issues and how to fix them

It can take some of the scheduling headaches out of video meetings, as Zoom Chat allows you to create your own meeting anywhere at any time. You can also restrict the meeting to specific groups within your organization. Zoom Chats is designed to work on both desktop and mobile, and it allows you to share important files like code snippets while working with your team.

There you go — pretty much everything you could ever want to know about Zoom Meetings and a few of its most popular services. Hopefully, we’ve prepared you for your next meeting, and maybe we’ll be able to work in person again someday.