Monday, March 30, 2020

Videoconferencing zooms during quarantine


Over the years, we’ve used FateTime and Duo to connect with family members across the country (and across the street) for one-on-one video conferences. But yesterday was our first Zoom party.

Zoom is a free videoconferencing app that works on the full range of desktop computers, tablets and mobile phones. And, in this time of life under quarantine, it’s taking off like a . . . well, you know.

The New York Times reported that Zoom had recently zoomed to the top of the free download list in Apple’s App Store with downloads reaching almost 600,000 on one day.

Yesterday we used Zoom to join a family gathering of my wife’s four siblings. We are scattered across the country, from Louisville to Detroit to Denver and Chicago and hadn’t been together since our daughter’s wedding six years ago.

For almost an hour, we complained about the coronavirus, got updated on our children and grandchildren, traded tips for staying safe and exchanged a few recipes. It was so enjoyable that we decided to meet this way every Sunday afternoon.

FaceTime and Duo both support group session, but I found Zoom to be both easier and more enjoyable. The audio was good and consistent and the video images were sharp and crisp for those of us who had light on their faces. The app highlights the person who is speaking, making it easy to follow the conversation.     

One Zoom feature that I really liked is the option to change backgrounds without a green screen behind you. You just upload a photo from your collection and you’re instantly chatting from a cafe in Paris or a ski resort in Aspen. The Times said one college student posted a looping video of a male stripper as his background.

For our family chat two of us chose photos of places we would rather be. One of my in-laws appears in a view from his lakeside cottage while I chose a sunset shot on a Florida beach.


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Follow me on Twitter @ricmanning and read my technology columns at My Well Being.


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