Zoom has had a few stellar years. Video calling apps have gone from relative obscurity to the most common way people can see friends and family while confined in their homes.
Despite the worst of the pandemic that is behind us in many parts of the world, Zoom’s popularity is enduring. According to data from EmailToolTester, it is the leading video calling platform in 44 countries around the world, including UK, US and Australia. It’s become a popular method for companies to communicate, especially after the more permanent shift to working from home.
There were some privacy concerns around Zoom at the start of the pandemic, but that was helped by tightening security credentials and introducing end-to-end encryption in October 2020. .
Zoom’s free tier supports up to 100 participants, but has a few key features exclusive to paid subscribers.
How long does a non-zoom meeting last?
Zoom’s free tier is used to allow two participants to stay in a meeting for up to 24 hours. But in May 2022, the company announced that hours would be limited to 40 minutes.
It’s the same restriction that always applies to anywhere from three to 100 participants. Once that mark is reached, everyone will be kicked off the call. This is probably the most annoying thing about Zoom, but it acts as an incentive for people to pay for a subscription.
They start at £11.99 / US$14.99 per month or £119.90 / US$149.90 per year, with the cheapest subscription extending the time limit to 24 hours. The more expensive plans remove the limit entirely, and it’s worth noting that only the host needs a subscription. See it in full here.
How to bypass the Zoom time limit?
If you want your meetings to last longer, you don’t necessarily have to use another app. Following the recent introduction of a two-participant time limit, this solution applies to all calls made through the free tier:
- Open Zoom and log in if you are not already logged in
- From the home screen, click Schedule icon looks like calendar
- Set the date and time when you want the meeting to almost start and end (within the last half hour)
- Scroll down Calendar title and make sure Other calendars selected before clicking Save
- All information about the meeting will appear, including the key ID and the join link
- Copy it and send it to all your potential participants
When the call nears the official 40-minute limit, a countdown timer appears in the meeting window. At this point, the host should choose Leaving the meeting (not End for All!). While it looks like the meeting is over, if everyone clicks on the original join link or enters the same ID, a new 40-minute period will start again.
There’s no limit to how many times you can do this, so you could theoretically spend many hours in a meeting, albeit with a break every 40 minutes. It’s not a perfect solution, but perhaps making regular work commitments isn’t the worst thing in the world.
Will unlimited Zoom calls ever be free again?
Sometimes, Zoom removes the 40-minute limit in the free tier, although this usually only lasts a few days. The last time it did this was on Christmas and New Year’s in 2020, but that was not the case last year even though the Omicron variant is spreading rapidly.
There’s no indication that Zoom is planning to make what’s usually a paid feature for free. But if anything changes, you’ll probably hear about it on the official Zoom blog first.
What if I don’t want to use Zoom?
While Zoom has been the most popular video conferencing software for the past few years, it’s not the only one. Microsoft Teams also saw significant growth in its active user base, although you are limited to 60 minutes in the free tier. For full collaboration features, you’ll need a Microsoft 365 subscription.
It’s a similar story for Google Meet, which will also let you down after an hour has passed. Both of these services also allow up to 100 participants.
Other alternatives come in the form of Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or FaceTime, with the latter alternatives now providing basic functionality for Android and Windows devices.
Check out other options in our guide to the best online video conferencing services. You may also want to consider a phone stand or laptop stand for more comfortable video calls.
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