Free, $20/month at Zoom
- Free plan is good for personal use
- Group calls up to 300 people
- Record and share meetings
- In-call text chat
- Lots of tools for business/enterprise use
- Many features limited to paid versions
- Not as plug-and-play as Duo
Zoom has quickly become the de facto service for professional video calling, and for good reason. This is one of the most robust video chatting platforms, offering features like in-call text chats, the ability to record and share Zoom calls, and support for group calls up to 300 people. You can use Zoom for personal use, but it’s better-suited for businesspeople.
Free at Google Duo
- Completely free to use
- Super high-quality calls
- Record and send messages to people
- Voice calling
- Tight integration with Google Home devices
- Group calls limited to 12 people
- Can’t invite additional people to existing group call
If Zoom is the best video calling service for professionals, Google Duo is the app to beat if you just want a free and easy way to chat with friends and family. Duo manages to pack in a ton of great features while also offering some of the highest-quality video calling in the business, making it out go-to recommendation if you don’t need the utility of Zoom.
While Zoom and Google Duo both set out to achieve the same goal of giving people a place to have video calls, their execution couldn’t be more different. On the one hand, Zoom is tailor-made for folks that need to remotely communicate with employees and other business colleagues. It supports much larger video calls, has additional admin controls for managing meetings, and even allows you to record your calls and share them with people after the fact. Google Duo isn’t quite as powerful in these regards, but as an app for personal video chatting, it’s one of the best.
It can be easy to look at Zoom and Google Duo and assume they’re direct competitors (the nearly identical logos don’t help), but that’s not really what’s going on. Yes, these are both video chatting apps, but they work very differently from one another.
In the case of Zoom, this is a service that’s designed with work and utility in mind. You can create a new meeting instantly, join an existing one using a Meeting ID, or schedule a meeting for a future time/date. There are also plenty of meeting settings to play around with, such as being able to block new people from joining, playing a chime when someone joins/leaves, etc.
On top of those meeting settings, some legitimately great tools expand the usefulness of your call. Meetings come with an in-call chat room so you can communicate with other members via text without having to interrupt who’s talking, you can record meetings and share them with other people that couldn’t attend, share your desktop screen with everyone, and much, much more.
Compared to Duo, one of the biggest benefits of Zoom is how it handles group calls. Even with the free version of Zoom, you can host up to 100 people and easily invite folks to join. You can start a call with just yourself or someone else, but using the Meeting ID code, you can share that with other people so they can pop into the call whenever they want.
Google Duo’s group calls could be improved, but everything else is fantastic.
You can also do group calls on Google Duo, but you’re limited to a max of 12 people per call. Even more annoying, you can only have a group call for people that you pre-select to be in that group. If you have a group of four friends but a fifth wants to join, you’d need to end that initial call, create an entirely new group with that fifth friend, and then start the call all over again. Yes, it’s just as annoying as it sounds.
While Google Duo could certainly improve the way it handles group calls, everything else about the service is top-notch. Its mobile app is easier to use and more user-friendly, it offers some of the best video-quality around (even when on a poor internet connection), and you can use it to make voice calls or send pre-recorded video messages to your contacts.
For me, my favorite thing about Duo is its tight integration with Google Home speakers/smart displays. If someone calls you via Google Duo, you’ll get an alert on these devices and can answer it that way. Similarly, if you’re out and about and want to quickly check-in with your family back at home, you can issue a call to all of your Google Home devices right from the Duo app.
This is one area in which Zoom and Google Duo have the most in common. No matter what device you have, chances are you’ll be able to use either of these services.
Both Zoom and Duo have mobile apps for Android and iOS, but things are a little different on the desktop side of things. While you’ll need to download a Zoom app on Windows and Mac, Google Duo doesn’t have a desktop app. Instead, just go to duo.google.com on your Windows, Mac, or Chromebook, and it’ll work perfectly fine.
|Windows||✔️||✔️ (web app)|
|macOS||✔️||✔️ (web app)|
|Chrome OS||✔️ (Chrome extension)||✔️ (web app)|
Zoom also has a Chrome extension if you want to use it on a Chromebook, but not every feature of the Windows and Mac apps are available on it.
Finally, let’s talk about everyone’s favorite subject — price.
Google Duo easily takes the win in this regard, seeing as how the service is completely free to use. Just download the app on your phone or go to the Duo website on your computer, and you can start using all of Duo’s features without ever having to spend a dime.
You can also use Zoom for free, but it comes with a few limitations compared to what you get with its paid plans. Zoom Basic should be fine for personal use, as it offers unlimited one-to-one meetings and allows you to host up to 100 people in one call. The biggest downside is that group meetings (calls of three people or more) are limited to a maximum duration of 40 minutes.
Zoom Pro and Zoom Business are the two most common paid plans you’ll potentially want, costing $15/month and $20/month, respectively. Once you start paying money, you’ll gain access to things like admin feature controls, cloud recording, longer meeting durations, and more.
You more than likely don’t need to pay for Zoom if you’re just using it to check in on your distant relatives or friends from time-to-time, but if you’re using it to remotely work with your employees, it might make sense to pay for that extra functionality.
Personal vs. business
At the end of the day, the battle of Zoom vs. Google Duo comes down to how you plan on using either service.
If you need a service that offers a plethora of communication and management features for running a meeting with tons of people, Zoom is the easy choice. You’ll more than likely end up paying for one of the premium plans to get all of the tools you need, but its overall usefulness and functionality do outperform what you get with Google Duo.
That said, if all you need is a video app that you can use for simple, reliable chats with friends and family, there’s just no beating Google Duo. Video call quality is top-notch, there’s support for basic group calls, and it’s completely free to use.
We’d happily recommend both services, you just need to decide which one is better aligned with your specific needs.
Plenty of features to get work done
Free, $20/month at Zoom
For anyone that’s working remotely and needs a video calling app for professional use, Zoom is the way to go. Group calling is far more robust, there are tons of controls to keep your meeting running smoothly, and cloud recording is great to have. Yes, you’ll need to pay a monthly fee for all of the features, but there’s a lot to sink your teeth into.
The best app for free and easy calls
Free at Google Duo
Google Duo may not have as many bells and whistles as Zoom, but as long as you don’t need all of the business-focused features of Zoom, it’s easy to recommend. It’s 100% free to use, you can use it for audio calling, and it ties in with Google Home devices. Duo’s group calling isn’t nearly as good as Zoom’s, but other than that, there’s a lot to like here.