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Jitsi Meet vs Zoom and Google Meet: Is Open Source Better?

Jitsi Meet is a free open source online meeting platform. Is it as good as Zoom or Google Meet? Check out the features and decide.

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The importance of online meeting software to pretty much everyone in 2020 cannot be exaggerated. Perhaps the biggest proof of that, at least on our end here at DottoTech, is the sheer number of tutorial videos and guides we’ve done about video conferencing apps and software, from the more popular ones like Zoom and Google Meet to the lesser known options like Whereby

Well, we’re going to take a closer look at yet another one today. This one’s a little different, though, and I honestly think it deserves your attention: Jitsi Meet, an open-source online meeting platform with virtually all the features you could ask for in video calling software. 

In fact, the Jitsi Meet app (or web platform, if you’re on a desktop) is what I think Google Meet should be.

Online Meeting Open Source Platform: Jitsi Meet

Jitsi Meet has actually been around for quite some time, and has built a small but steady following.

To get started, simply navigate to meet.jit.si. Admittedly, it doesn't really look like a video conferencing tool. You won’t even see any of the sales type stuff that you'd typically find in a commercial application. That’s because it's open source; in other words, completely free.

There are three ways you can use Jitsi Meet for your video conference or video call needs. You can either use it via a web browser on your computer, download the Jitsi Meet app on your mobile device, or (if you’re looking for additional security), download a server app that you can use to host your own, completely secure Jitsi conferences.

Scrolling through the site gives you a better idea of its features. While it’s community-focused, many big companies and organizations actually use this platform.

Starting an Online Meeting via Jitsi  

Similar to Whereby, you launch a meeting with your own name in the browser, which you share with others. While you can set up a variety of different level security levels, naming your meeting appropriately is basically the initial level.

Another thing to note: It’s easy to connect your calendar to Jitsi. Simply click the gear setting and choose the option to connect your calendar (you’ll have to give it permission initially). It likely uses the cookies on your computer to recognize that you’re coming back. 

Now, you can also choose which devices to access for video conferencing – pretty standard stuff if this isn’t your first foray into online meetings. 

So after creating my online meeting, I get transferred to the Jitsi interface. To me, it’s a treasure trove of really cool little things that just made me smile as I use them.

It’s so elegant and simple: The left hand side contains your screen sharing options (which are fairly advanced). You can choose the tab in your browser, and even share audio; for instance, if you choose a Chrome tab, it will broadcast whatever media you’re playing, and you won’t need to use your microphone to carry sound from your computer.

Just like Zoom, it has chat features (and a hand raising feature, too). There’s an open chat that everybody can see, and a private person-to-person chat that you can establish. 

You also have controls for muting your microphone, hanging up the call, or turning on and off your camera. Clicking on the little drop down arrow lets you switch sources and devices.

Meanwhile, the right hand side has controls for toggling your views.

Of course, you can create a link to share with others, so you can invite other people into the room. Scheduling meetings on your calendar is pretty easy. You can even add a password.

One of the features I really liked was the ability to manage video quality. Basically, this tool lets you monitor the bandwidth that's being used for the broadcast. You can actually see how much upload and download speed you have dynamically on the screen. If things are a bit slow for you, simply adjust the video quality accordingly; if  you have multiple presenters at the same time, having this granular level of control over your video quality is invaluable.

You can also do a live stream via Jitsi with the use of a stream key, which you can obtain from your YouTube Live or Facebook account. Just copy-paste the key in the field, and then you can broadcast through any of the live streaming services you use.

You can even share a YouTube recording! You can let Jitsi access your Dropbox account and save your call or presentation; in contrast, Zoom will only record to the cloud if you pay for the premium service.

You can also draw the YouTube video directly out again, which is something that I really like, especially when compared with having to stream it from your desktop. This is a lot more like a webinar tool, where we can actually insert the feed from YouTube. Basically, if you pre-record an element of your presentation, you can stream it via YouTube (which will be rendered in higher quality for your community).  

Jitsi also gives you the background blurring feature (though to be honest, I’m kind of over the whole virtual background thing – you would be, too, if you already set up your room for video calls). 

Oh, and there’s also calendar integration. When you go to the meet.jitsi.si page, which is basically your homepage, you can connect your calendar there. When you do, it will essentially display all your different calendar appointments, and you can quickly jump into any Jitsi calls you have on your schedule. 

There are a bunch of other basic features as well, though not on the same level as all of the bells and whistles on Zoom.

To the Jitsi team’s credit, though, I think that the features are intuitively designed. I also get the feeling that a bit more thought went into this than what went into Google Meet.

There are a couple of interesting things to take note of here. When you create a new calendar event and add a Jitsi meeting, the platform automatically creates a link for you. Now, they have a system for generating this link that I can only describe as “bizarre”: A string generator that uses English words to form nonsensical statements. Sometimes, you end up with gems like the baffling “DivorcedNursesPatrolWisely” (which had me laughing for a good minute, I’ll admit).

One more item of interest is the fact that Jitsi’s homepage has a useful list of frequently asked questions, in which they list information on the platform’s other features alongside some of the more basic, standard questions about it.

All in all, I like Jitsi better than I like Google Meet. High-quality video, intelligent control layout, and a variety of useful options make for a really fine product. It does have quite a few areas for improvement, though, such as speed, the fact that streaming video through to YouTube only seems to appear on the desktop, and a few other limitations. It doesn’t replace Zoom, but it is, nevertheless, a solid contender.

You can watch the full video, including the demo where my friends and I actually tried using the platform, here.

I’m also inviting you to join our Webinar Wednesdays – an excellent opportunity to learn something new every week – by clicking here.

That’s it – have fun storming the castle!

The Difference Between Jitsi Meet vs Zoom and Google Meet

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