Being a VA you’ll definitely have heard of, and most likely used, Skype. It’s been around since 2003 offering Skype to Skype video calls, instant messaging, sharing of rich media files and low-rate phone calls to landline and mobiles worldwide.
Google Hangouts, on the other hand, is a relative newbie on the scene. Launching in May 2013 but offering most of the same features as Skype with the exception of file uploading. You can upload images and videos, but not Microsoft documents. However one major advantage of Hangouts, if you’re a Google App user, is that you can easily share and work in real-time with Google Doc files – great if you’re working with a client or associate to a tight deadline!
Both options allow you to easily share screens with call participants. But Skype is renowned for encountering bandwidth issues which can often result in screen freezes and / or screen pixilation (the caveat is that of course it very much depends on your own bandwidth). But for me, regularly working abroad with varying internet speeds, a screen freezing mid-way through an important client call, grows tiresome pretty quickly.
Deciding which solution is best for your needs can be tricky. Both have their pros and cons. However just because you’ve been using Skype for years and are used to it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider switching. Or just because you’re a Google advocate, doesn’t mean that Skype might not be better in some scenarios.
I’ve always used Skype. It’s been around for a long time and has been fairly reliable, or certainly workable. A major benefit for me was the ability to purchase a UK-based landline telephone number, making it incredibly easy for my clients to reach me no matter where I’m living.
However over the last few months, due to new clients and small business groups I’m involved with, I’ve been using Google Hangouts a lot more. And I’ve got to say, I am beginning to prefer it for ease of use, reliability and clarity.
But that’s just me!
To help you find out which is more suited to your business needs, check out our quick comparison guide below:
|Group Video Conferencing||Free for up to 10 participants.||Free for up to 10 participants. Upgrade to Google Apps for Business ($5 per month) to allow a maximum of 15 participants. Google On Air broadcasts allow an unlimited number of people to watch / listen, but remains at only 10 to participate.|
|File sharing||Skype allows the user to share files, images and videos quickly and easily via IM and video / audio conferencing.||Hangouts allows image and video sharing via IM and video / audio conferencing. Whilst Hangouts does not allow Office software file sharing, such as Word or Excel documents, it is integrated with Google Drive, so you can easily edit and discuss documents in real time.|
|Screen Sharing||Available once a video call has been started and joined by at least one other participant.||Available. Hangouts also allows you to test this functionality pre-call by creating a chat room to ensure it’s working correctly.|
|National / International Telephone Calls||Skype to Skype calls are free. Skype to landline or mobile phones are charged at a low-cost rate. Subscription and pay as you go payment plans are available.||Calls can be made between Google Hangout users free of charge. You can also setup a Google voice number which is linked to your preferred phone. This allows you to receive calls to that device, as well as make calls. Calls (from anywhere) made to US and Canada numbers are free of charge. International calls are charged at a low-cost rate. You must have Google Wallet activated to make paid-for calls.|
|Personal Telephone Number||You can purchase a personal landline telephone number, choosing from a selection of country and area codes, for a monthly subscription.||Not available. You can setup a Google voice number to receive calls to your preferred device.|
|Access||Available via computer, mobile phones (except a Blackberry), Apple devices and tablets.||Available via computer, and via Google Apps on Andriod and iPhone, iPad and tablets.|
|Integrated Platforms||Integrates with Facebook and Outlook.||Integrates with Google+, Google Drive and YouTube.|
|Call & Video Quality||Depending on internet connection, Skype can suffer from quality issues with both audio and video calls. Can be even more problematic on group calls.||In general, Hangouts offers high quality video streaming performing well for group conferencing calls.|
|Software Updates||Requires the user to manually update when notified.||Automated updates.|