Beyond Zoom Calls

Sujatha Ratnala
2 min readJun 18, 2020

The race is on.. FB’s Messenger Rooms, FB live & Google’s reply with googlemeet and google meet live..

Come Lockdown and the whole world learnt to use it.. Be it distance learning or friends hanging out or a fitness class, it was zoom time everywhere.

Around 2 months back looking at the mighty beast of Portal idling in a corner of the living room, I wished it could be put to better use.. With an AI based auto panning camera and array of microphones strong enough to track a moving target.. It seemed perfect connectivity in the Social Distancing times.. I hoped Facebook would enable zoom like connection with non Facebook folks.. At that time, it was only offerring point to point connectivity with Whatsapp and Portal.

Around that time, I was also exploring google meet. It seemed only for corporates and bundled with their paid offering..

Things have changed today.. Facebook’s answer to zoom is it’s Messenger Rooms.. Upto 50 people can connect and unlimited time.. Room can be created private.. With the usual VR fun masks.. Organisations could also go live and keep connected to the world with no IT support. Either Mobile or Desktop or Portal device.

I was exploring with Portal yesterday with Facebook’s messenger rooms.. Seemed mighty liberating and impressive. I was demonstrating Yoga to a non facebook friend and no more adjustments of the camera angle.. the camera was tracking actions from one end of the room to the other. Apart from the usual socialising, seems like a great fit for school teachers, fitness, dance and yoga teachers.. where mobility is key.. It also offers the screen sharing.

My husband was showing me google meet’s close caption feature.. Seemed pretty impressive when audio link is not strong.. Now, google meet is opened up just like zoom and this voice recognition feature seems pretty neat.

The race is on.. FB live offers broadcasting like infrastructure at no cost for camera and screen share.. Google meet is also offering the same. And small institutes with no streaming infrastructure are benefiting in this lockdown times..

Looks like tech companies are working hard in putting these pieces together and branding their competetionover zoom.. Leveraging their window of opportunity in enticing their offerings and expanding retating their customer base which is a win win both the sides.. With some end user judgement of privacy and data sensitivity.. It seems a good choice.



Sujatha Ratnala

I write.. I weave.. I walk.. कवयामि.. वयामि.. यामि.. Musings on Patterns, Science, Linguistics, Sanskrit et al..