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What is Zoom? A comprehensive guide to the wildly popular video-chatting service for computers and smartphones
Even if you don’t work from home, you’ve probably heard of Zoom.
In light of the coronavirus crisis, the videoconferencing app has become the standard for connecting with others face-to-face virtually in both business and personal settings.
Zoom is now the video communication platform of choice for federal governments, tech startups, religious communities, and of course regular people looking to chat — and even party — with their friends and family.
Here’s everything you need to know about Zoom, including how to download it and get started, along with a few tips and tricks to help you become a video-chatting pro.
What is Zoom?
Zoom is a cloud-based video communications app that allows you to set up virtual video and audio conferencing, webinars, live chats, screen-sharing, and other collaborative capabilities.
You don’t need an account to attend a Zoom meeting, and the platform is compatible with Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android, meaning nearly anyone can access it.
How to get Zoom
Before we go any further, it’s important to note that the platform offers four distinct pricing plans, from basic to enterprise. What’s right for you depends on how you plan to use the app.
Zoom Basic: This is the platform’s most popular pricing tier, which makes sense, considering it’s free. This tier offers unlimited one-on-one meetings, but videoconferencing with more than three participants is limited to 40 minutes (you can always start another one). If you plan to use it only every once in a while to chat with friends or family, check out our general overview of Zoom’s basic features.
Zoom Pro: The Pro plan is ideal if you work with a small team or plan to regularly conduct extended video calls. Beyond extending the group meeting length from 40 minutes to 24 hours, this tier allows hosts to create IDs for recurring meetings and the capability to store recorded meetings in the cloud, plus advanced usage reports.
Zoom Business: A pricing plan to make collaboration easy for small to midsize companies, the Business tier requires at least 10 hosts. But what you get in return is company branding on all invites, dedicated customer support and more features like auto-generated transcription.
Zoom Enterprise: This tier is designed for large businesses and sign-up requires a minimum of least 100 hosts. Enterprise offers plenty of perks, including unlimited cloud storage, a dedicated “customer success manager,” and the capacity to host 500 people on a single call.
Zoom helps businesses and organizations bring their teams together in a frictionless environment to get more done. Our easy, reliable cloud platform for video, voice, content sharing, and chat runs across mobile devices, desktops, telephones, and room systems. Zoom is publicly traded on Nasdaq (ZM) and headquartered in San Jose, California.
Choose your plan
Zoom allows one-to-one chat sessions that can grow into group calls, training sessions and webinars for internal and external audiences, and global video meetings with up to 1,000 participants and as many as 49 on-screen videos. The free tier allows unlimited one-on-one meetings but limits group sessions to 40 minutes and 100 participants. Paid plans start at $15 per month per host.
Zoom offers four pricing tiers (not including a Zoom Room subscription):
Zoom Free: This tier is free. You can hold an unlimited number of meetings. Group meetings with multiple participants are capped at 40 minutes in length, and meetings can’t be recorded.
Zoom Pro: This tier costs $14.99/£11.99 per month and meeting host. It allows hosts to create personal meeting IDs for repetitive Zoom Meetings, and it allows meeting recording in the cloud or your device, but it caps group meeting durations at 24 hours.
Zoom Business: This tier costs $19.99/£15.99 per month and meeting host (10 minimum). It lets you brand Zoom meetings with vanity URLs and company branding, and it offers transcripts of Zoom meetings recorded in the cloud, as well as dedicated customer support.
Zoom Enterprise: This tier costs $19.99/£15.99 per month and per meeting host (100 minimum) and is meant for businesses with 1,000+ employees. It offers unlimited cloud storage for recordings, a customer success manager, and discounts on webinars and Zoom Rooms.
Optional – Zoom Rooms: If you want to set up Zoom Rooms, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial, after which Zoom Rooms require an additional $49/£39 per month and room subscription, while webinars using Zoom cost $40/£32 per month and host.