Zoom vs Google Hangouts have emerged as popular options for video conferencing apps in recent times. As a teacher or student, you probably are wondering what the differences are.

The coronavirus pandemic has made video conferencing apps the most essential software out there for both businesses and consumers. It is today the key component that keeps businesses running, allows teachers to continue teaching students, and families to keep in touch. 

Google Hangouts vs Zoom have emerged as popular options in recent times. As a teacher or student, you probably are wondering what the differences are. 

Ultimately, it comes down to your priorities and needs and for most users, the differences won’t really matter. But there are some aspects that may cause teachers and students to choose one option over the other. Keep reading as we take a look at the two to decide what is best for you.



What’s good?

  • Tools for easy collaboration 
  • Free account
  • Hosts up to 50 video chat users

What’s not good?

  • Call-in access is an additional fee
  • Incompatible with popup blockers

Zoom has been the go-to option for all video conferencing needs during this pandemic. Don’t believe me? The 200 million daily users are certainly proof of it.

Similar to many video conferencing solutions, Zoom was initially developed with businesses in mind but it has the underlying features to do the job. It is also incredibly simple to use when compared with the rest of the competition – one of its major strengths.

Signing up for a Zoom account is a breeze and you can use your existing Google account or Facebook account to do so. The app is compatible with iOS, Android, PC, and Mac devices so compatibility will not be an issue for you. It does have a web version you can fire up in the browser too but you will miss out on some features. 

Some of the key features of Zoom include the ability to set meeting times and appoint multiple hosts. The basic plan allows up to 100 users during a single call and you do have HD video and audio output. As a teacher, collaboration tools like co-annotation and screen-sharing will certainly make it easier to teach your students while the call recording ability and transcript generation will certainly ensure you don’t have to keep repeating yourself.

Gmail, iCal, and Outlook support starting and scheduling meetings. In Gmail, simply click the calendar icon, then the meeting time and finally the link under Join Zoom Meeting

If you want to switch off your microphone and camera, Zoom does support a simple instant chat system (that looks a teensy bit like Slack) and it can be very helpful when you want to ask a question or announce something to the entire class. 

What is Zoom-bombing?

 Of course, we can’t talk about Zoom without discussing “Zoom-bombing.” Security concerns have plagued the app ever since it shot to fame during the pandemic. Zoom-bombing is where unauthorized users log in and disrupt meetings while privacy experts have repeatedly expressed concerns over privacy risks and other vulnerabilities. In light of these, The New York City Department of Education has requested teachers to use Microsoft Teams instead of Zoom.

Developers have responded with many fixes for the reported issues including a “waiting room” where you can screen participants before they are allowed to the conference call and a per-meeting ID that will help you protect your meetings.

The bottom line: If you can put up with the security concerns, Zoom is a great hassle-free option for most.

Google Hangouts

What’s good?

  • Screen sharing 
  • Easily accessible 
  • Requires Google account

What’s not good?

  • Maximum of 25 video chat participants
  • Limited feature list compared to Zoom (lack of backgrounds etc.)

Google Hangouts is Google’s longstanding video and voice calling app. As with most of Google’s products, you will need a Google account to make a call but you can join a call without an account. Up to 150 people can be added to a chat but only 25 can simultaneously be on a video call.

In response to the escalating pandemic, Google is now offering many features of its business version of Hangouts, Google Hangouts Meet, for free. That means you can now hold larger meetings of up to 250 users, livestream to up to 100,000 viewers, and record meetings and save it to Google Drive. The free features are available till the 30th of September. One really nifty feature of Hangouts Meet is its real time captioning for video calls – ideal for when you just want to keep the noise down or if you are hearing impaired. 

Hangouts can be accessed through the iOS or Android app, a web browser, chrome extension or through your Gmail account on a desktop. Making a call is easy although it is not as intuitive as Zoom – the dashboard is a bit messy. On the other hand, Google has none of the security concerns Zoom is associated with.

The bottom line: Google Hangouts is a feature-filled program best for Google/G suite users.

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video conferencing apps: zoom and hangouts features