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Before using any software communication, ensure you have a suitable data plan for your device to avoid high charges. A wi-fi connection is highly recommended especially with video.
These software suggestions augment your normal telephoning, messaging (SMS, iMessage, WhatsApp, FaceBook Messaging, etc) and email for you to keep in touch. Also consider that the people you are contacting may not use the same technology as you do, so aim for something supported across multiple technologies (cross-platform) unless you can be certain. These products will run on smartphones, tables, desktops and laptops in all cases. Note that a camera is needed on a desktop for video calls.
This list is not comprehensive but is provided simply to help you if required, in the current circumstances.
If personal security is important to you, or members of your family, iMessaging and FaceTime is available only on Apple products, from Apple to Apple. They are free, built in and fully secure, with no additional costs or hidden business model (hence part of the higher price for these products).
If any of your family is in the armed forces, or military in any way, or you want to have a free, secure, cross platform messaging/audio/video with no hidden business model, then I highly recommend Signal. The only drawback is that, whilst it supports group messaging, it only has a 1:1 videoing capability.
The grandfather of all communication software, and still very popular is Microsoft's Skype. This is available across all platforms. Again, it's a "free" product with business benefits to Microsoft - all that is required is a free Microsoft account. If you want conferencing capabilities - the ability to video with more than one person at a time for, say, business of family chats - then Skype supports this. Skype has has also a Skype Meet Now product which anyone can use, rather than have a free Microsoft account.
Microsoft is focusing new development on Microsoft Teams - again a free Microsoft account is required. A lot of similar functionality available with it
Another favourite newcomer to video conferencing and messaging is Zoom. This is very popular but the free version only has a limit of 40 minutes which may or may not be long enough for business calls or important family calls. Whilst there were major technical security issues with Zoom at the start, these have mainly been addressed with Version 5 and later, so please ensure all participants have updated to this version at least. In addition, the Church of Scotland has given advice on how to configure secure Zoom meetings HERE.
Google and FaceBook are big players the IT world, and both have their offerings for communication. Both are large data owners, whose core business model is based on data, and what they know about you, but their software is free and therefore very popular.
The Google equivalent to the above is, currently Google Meet. Google has a tendency to add replacement solutions, retire existing one, or completely change functionality with little warning. Google Meet is the new video system competing with the popularity of Zoom. A free Google account is required.
If you need assistance, advice, or to add to this information, or simply wish to connect with the Cathedral IT Administrator please use this form and they will attempt to help where possible.