For those of us stuck sharing Thanksgiving Day moments with family over the internet this year, Zoom is removing at least one logistical hurdle for non-paying users: the company’s time limit imposed on free meetings.
All Zoom gatherings on Thanksgiving will be allowed to run past the usual 40-minute limit imposed on free meetings. The company says the free window will run from 11 p.m. CT on Wednesday, Nov. 25 through 5 a.m. on Nov. 27.
Zoom’s decision comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns Americans to limit holiday gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic. Nationwide case numbers have surged in recent weeks and now total more than 11 million since the start of the outbreak in the spring, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The popularity of Zoom and other video streaming apps boomed over the last 10 months as many events and meetings moved online. The company offers annual paid plans ranging from $150-200 per year for unlimited access. Without a plan, free meetings are usually cut off after 40 minutes.
Thankfully, you won’t get cut off on Thanksgiving – and you also have some options beyond Zoom, too. Here are a few other services offering free videoconferencing:
- Skype offers free meetings without any sign-ups or downloads
- Microsoft Teams is offering a free version that includes videoconferencing
- Houseparty, which calls itself a “face to face social network,” offers free video chats
- Google Meet, the company’s business video service, is now free to anyone with a Google account
- You can also still use Google’s old service, Hangouts, which offers free video calls.