Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Communication trends: Microsoft Teams video conferencing, video chat in retail, and Omegle and its alternatives

Written by  The Dubrovnik Times Oct 11, 2021

It's amazing how much the ways people around the world communicate has changed in just a year. In an era of coronavirus restrictions and mass isolation, the Internet has become the main source of information and communication. Furthermore, the ways people use it are hugely diverse — from traditional messengers to fully functional services for video conferencing for hundreds of participants.

Let’s take a look at some of the statistics. As of the first half of 2021, more than 4.66 billion people on the planet use the Internet. This is 7.3% more than just a year ago. Every day, the user base of the social networks is increasing by an average of 1.3 million users — this is about 15 new users per second. The average time that people spend on the Internet has increased by 15-16 minutes a day compared to the previous year.

It’s interesting to have a look at some of the types of online services that have generated the most interest among today's users over the past 12 months.

Video conferencing services for work 

Due to the coronavirus, a significant number of companies around the world switched to a remote work format, so they urgently needed tools for convenient communication. Fortunately, these were already available. 

  • Microsoft Team. A feature-rich service that combines online meeting tools for up to 100 participants, cloud storage, access to Microsoft services and project collaboration. Microsoft Team will be a particularly good solution for those companies and teams of employees who use other Microsoft services, such as Office 365. 
  • Proficonf. A lesser known platform, but quite functional and easy to use. Proficonf is primarily designed for video conferencing, online meetings, and webinars. The service works in a browser and does not require the installation of proprietary software on a computer or smartphone. Interesting features include a drawing board, Miro collaboration board, video recording of video conferences, live streaming on YouTube and popular social networks.
  • Cisco Webex. This service is aimed primarily at serving large companies and corporations. It supports the functions of video recording, media sharing, virtual background, dividing conference participants into subgroups, and more. It seamlessly integrates with MS Office, Google Cloud, Slack and other work platforms.
  • Mirapolis Virtual Room. A ready-made solution for hosting webinars, meetings, working meetings, and so on. The Mirapolis Virtual Room can have up to 15 speakers, and you can manage their access rights directly during the broadcast. The platform is available via browser, as well as iOS and Android apps.

Omegle video chat and its alternatives

Omegle became the first anonymous video chat service in history and proved to be the ancestor of dozens of clones. Yet now many of the Omegle alternatives have become much more functional and more convenient. We want to look at the most interesting of them.

  • Chathub. Despite its minimalism and limited features, this Omegle alternative is really popular with internet users. First, there’s a handy gender filter, and secondly, the site works really fast and very quickly finds chat partners. For many, this is more than enough.
  • Chatrandom. A good alternative to Omegle with more functionality. For example, in addition to the gender filter and search by interests, there are themed chat rooms for several participants. You can visit a gay chat or a separate chat with girls feature (accessible only at extra cost). Overall, a great choice for those who are not satisfied with the basic functions of Omegle.
  • Chatroulette. A close relative of Omegle, which saw the light of day just six months after it. In fact, it was Chatroulette that became the first anonymous video chat service, as Omegle only had text chat at the time. Unfortunately, due to poor moderation and rather poor functionality, the site quickly lost its audience. But in 2020, it was significantly modernized and user interest also increased.
  • Shagle. Popular video chat site that allows you to search for chat partners in more than 70 countries, and select your gender. You can choose not only "Man", "Woman" or "Couple", but also the option "Transgender". This feature became available only in 2021, and for many users it will be very useful. 
  • OmeTV. A decent alternative to Omegle with gender and geographic filters and a useful automatic message translation feature. It’s very convenient if you want to communicate with people who don’t speak your language, and not use third-party translators for this.
  • OmegleAlternative. Undisputedly the best Omegle alternative for men. This is because the site only connects them with girls. The system doesn’t make mistakes because when registering each girl confirms her identity. This guarantees the absence of fakes and bots in Omegle video chat. Unlike many rivals, Omegle Alternative provides free trial access to all features. You can try out everything and only then decide if you are ready to buy premium access.

Use of video chat in retail

The first attempts to use video chats in sales were made several years ago. But at that time they were received coolly by the public. However, in 2020, when even going to the store became very problematic, this format finally worked as originally intended.

The classic scenario for using video chat in retail is as follows: 

  1. The user finds the product they are interested in on the site and instead of reading the description or watching the video review, they can click the button "View live".
  2. The manager receives a notification that the client is interested in a particular product.
  3. A video chat is launched in which the seller demonstrates the product to a potential buyer, talks about it, answers questions, and so on. This effectively replaces the trip to the store.
  4. If the client is satisfied with everything, the manager places the order and the goods are prepared for shipment to the recipient.

To date, video chat in retail is a new phenomenon, and there are relatively few players on this market. For example, RichCall, Lookie and others. Maybe now this format of communication and shopping will seem strange to many, but the future belongs to it. Remember how ten years ago everyone was pretty skeptical about online shopping. And today they cannot imagine their life without it.

What conclusions can we draw?

The world is changing very rapidly, and some factors, such as Covid-19, are only driving these changes. Over the past year, we’ve seen how much Internet technology has improved, what opportunities various online services have provided us, and how much easier they have made the lives of billions of people.

Perhaps, when this whole pandemic saga is over, Internet technologies and services will experience a slight decline in popularity. But humankind will never be able to completely abandon them.


The Voice of Dubrovnik


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