Video Chatting Became Popular in 2020, and Improved Along the Way

Video Chatting Became Popular in 2020, and Improved Along the Way

Software innovations made the medium more lively and easier to use as the pandemic pressed on

As the coronavirus pandemic put a halt to many social gatherings and business meetings, a crop of small technology firms this year emerged with the aim of diversifying or reinventing the video-call experience. Zoom and Microsoft Teams were leaders in the space, but others tried to add on to the experience, creating virtual worlds or making the format more dynamic.

Many platforms added new security enhancements and other features to make the typical video call more interactive.

Many more updates are on the horizon, particularly to address a hybrid work environment where people split time between working at home and in the office, said Esther Yoon, group manager, product marketing at Zoom.

“We’re going to have to make sure that whether you’re in the office or whether you’re working from home your voice has equal weight,” Ms. Yoon said.

Video Chatting Became Popular in 2020, and Improved Along the Way

Microsoft Teams added a feature called “Together Mode” in July that aims to re-create the feeling of being in a room together over video and removing the gallery view. Fans who wanted to watch National Basketball Association games this past season used Together Mode to do so. Google Meet in September introduced a whiteboard feature and a blurring tool to let users wash out their background on video calls.

But while many of the major videoconferencing companies have shown impressive growth and demand, there will be room for industry-specific video chatting tools and platforms, said Brianne Kimmel, founder and managing partner of Worklife Ventures, a venture fund that invests in companies creating work tools.

Video Chatting Became Popular in 2020, and Improved Along the Way

“In the short term, Zoom is still the category leader when it comes to the majority of professional calls,” Ms. Kimmel said. “Where I see a lot of innovation happening are more on the personal calls, or new experiences that kind of sit at the intersection of work and life.”

Many startups have popped up as well to address the growing usage of video chatting. Many video-chatting platforms can be very draining. Part of what the startups are trying to solve for is an issue called “Zoom fatigue” many people feel, which is perpetuated by only seeing other people’s heads, said Chris Ross, vice president, analyst at research and advisory company Gartner Inc. As more video platforms come onto the scene, it won’t be the technology necessarily that stands out but instead how these companies incorporate graphics and toggling between people’s faces to make the experience less draining, Mr. Ross added.

Video fatigue isn’t exclusive to Zoom, a Zoom spokesperson said. The company has a blog post that offers tips to help users get past video fatigue from any videoconferencing platform, the spokesperson said.

As companies start to change workspaces to address a hybrid world in which people commute part of the time to the office and work from the home the rest, videoconferencing will need to address how to become a better collaboration and productivity tool.

Collaborating one-on-one and in person is the one challenge that still persists, even with so much innovation in videoconferencing.

Source: Original article The Wall Street Journal