Roundup – 5 VoIP conferencing apps for your business

For many businesses, making calls and attending meetings is part of the daily routine, but it can be a hassle when your employees are scattered around the world.

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While many enterprise users do rely on Skype for making international calls, the service does charge for calls between group members. There are other free alternatives out there that use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to connect your employees and clients, whenever and wherever.

Aside from Skype, here’s our roundup of a few VoIP apps that will help your business run a little more smoothly, even when work is divided between people on different continents.

1) Cisco WebEx Meetings

Features:
– For basic, free service (extra features included with premium plans): meetings scheduled via email, joined by typing in meeting number issued in email
– sharing of desktop, whiteboard and documents
– 250 MB of storage

Available for: iOS, Android, BlackBerry
Average user rating (out of 5 stars): iOS (3.5) / Android (4.1) / BlackBerry, (4)
Cost: Free for basic plan – premium plans range from $24 per host per month to $89 per host per month

This app is enterprise-friendly for a number of reasons. Offering mobile video conferencing, hosts and presenters can issue meeting invitations to others through giving them an email with a meeting number in it. Participants can view content and video feeds of other meeting participants at the same time on their tablets.

ios - cisco web ex

One of the biggest draws of this particular app is that hosts can use the product to train employees or instruct clients. The Cisco WebEx Training Center is slated to allow hosts to train up to 1,000 attendees around the world when its host buys a premium plan. It allows hosts to use HD live video, up to 720 pixels, sharing multimedia, giving polling and quizzes, and using a system to track attendance and training completion.

2) Fuze Meeting
Features:
– For basic, free service (extra features included with premium plans):
– screen and content sharing
– 250 MB of storage

Available for: iOS, Android, BlackBerry
Average user rating (out of 5 stars): iOS (N/A) / Android (4.9 for smartphone, 3.6 for tablet) / BlackBerry (2.5)

Cost: Free for basic plan – premium plans range from $17 per month to $69 per month on an annual plan

Fuze - app

Although this app is also geared towards the enterprise space, Fuze seems to be very focused on the iOS crowd, featuring a native app on the Mac desktop that is touted as a “real-time visual collaboration” and the “sexiest user interface in the world.” It has a drag-and-drop interface and can show videos that run smoothly between iOS devices.

3) Adobe Connect Mobile

Features:
– For basic, free service (extra features included with premium plans):
– screen and content sharing

Available for: iOS, Android, BlackBerry
Average user rating (out of 5 stars): iOS (4.5 for all versions) / Android (4.4) / BlackBerry (3)
Cost: Free to download, but plans are available – monthly plans are about $55 per month, while annual plans are $45 a month. There is also a pay-per-use plan that charges 32 cents per minute per user.

Like Cisco’s offering, this app also seems to be focused towards both the enterprise and education sectors.

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While this is good news for those looking to use their platform in multiple ways, Adobe Connect does use a flash-powered platform that seems to take some time to become familiar with. It is also relatively bare-bones in its platform design, though Adobe provides a number of how-to videos to explain how its system works.

What’s also nice about the Adobe offering is that even if one of your participants doesn’t have an Adobe Connect account, he or she can still join a meeting as long as a host has an account.

4) TeamViewer

Features:
– Online meeting and online presentations – up to 25 participants
– Remote support (so you can install programs on clients’ computers if necessary)
– Remote access to data, applications, and files from connected computers

Available for: iOS, Android
Average user rating (out of 5 stars): iOS (4) / Android (4.6)
Cost: Free to download as a private user, but for SMBs, Team Viewer only charges a flat fee. Prices range from $689 for small businesses to $2,769 for corporate use.

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One of the major draws of Team Viewer is that it has a remote control feature. This allows it to connect to other computers via the Internet – so if a client has trouble with one of your programs, you can go into his or her computer and help them with the program’s installation or debugging.
However, a downside to this app is that it doesn’t seem to be available for BlackBerry users. That may change in the future, but for now TeamViewer is only an option for devices using iOS and Android.

5) Lync Server 2013

Features:
– Streamlined with Microsoft Office 365 as a unified communications platform
– Uses Skype as a way to connect to outside users
– Can connect to instant messaging services like Windows Live Messenger, AOL Live Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger so everything is in one place

Available for: iOS, Android, Windows Phone
Average user rating (out of 5 stars) – iOS (3.5) /Android (4) / Windows Phone (4)
Cost: Very wide range of pricing, anywhere from $2 per user per month to about $3,650 for the server. Check the Lync website for details.

lync - android

As Microsoft Office’s version of a VoIP conferencing app, Lync is a good way to maintain consistency across desktops and mobile devices. And out of all the options here, this is the only one that seems to have an app specifically for Windows phones. However, for all mobile devices, Lync still requires a Lync server or Office 365 account. Conferencing with clients who do not have a Lync account means you can call them through Skype.

Got any more suggestions for handy VoIP, enterprise-focused apps? Let us know in the comments.


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Candice So
Candice is a graduate of Carleton University and has worked in several newsrooms as a freelance reporter and intern, including the Edmonton Journal, the Ottawa Citizen, the Globe and Mail, and the Windsor Star. Candice is a dog lover and a coffee drinker.