Whether for work or play, by now, we’ve all had to use online meeting apps at some point. But maybe you’re looking to make the switch to something better suited to your needs. In that case, you’re in the right place.

Below, we’ll go over the seven best online meeting apps in 2021, including ones that are completely free to use.

What Is the Best Online Meeting App?

The best free online meeting app depends on your needs. Based on our research, here are the top ones. For more details on each, continue reading this article.

  • Best all-around: Zoom
  • Best for personal calls to friends and family: Skype
  • Best for online classes and educational institutions: Microsoft Teams
  • Best for small teams: Whereby
  • Best for large teams: Cisco Webex

Is Zoom the Best Meeting App?

If you value ubiquitousness and familiarity, then Zoom just might be the best meeting app. It is the most used app, by far, in the web conferencing software market, with Datanyze estimating Zoom takes a whopping 72.56% of the market share as of August 2021.

And with its free plan, it comes at no cost to you. 

What Is the Best Free Online Meeting App?

As for the best free online meeting app, it’s a close call between Zoom and Webex. While Zoom has a bigger market share and would be much easier to use since most of the people you interact with are familiar with it, Webex has more robust features on its free version. For example, Webex allows 50-minute group meetings on its free version, while Zoom only allows 40-minute group meetings. Additionally, Webex’s free version is HIPAA compliant; Zoom’s is not. 

 

Both Zoom and Webex allow for meeting recording and breakout rooms on their free plans—something the other apps on this list require paid plans for.

7 Best Online Meeting Apps for Every Need (in No Particular Order)

1. Whereby (Formerly Appear.in)

Whereby Price: Free plan available; paid plans start at $6.99 per license per month

Maximum Meeting Participants: 100

Whereby is the only online meeting app on this list that is completely browser-based. That’s right—there is no software or desktop/mobile app to install. As a Whereby user, you create a custom URL that serves as the “key” to your personal “meeting room.” This room can be locked at all times, and for participants to enter, they must “knock” and be admitted into the meeting.

While Whereby doesn’t come with nearly as robust a set of features as the other software on this list, it is a solid contender if you have a team of fewer than 100 people and want something that anyone can instantly access regardless of tech savvy. Starting a meeting on Whereby really is as easy as sharing a link, and joining a meeting really is as easy as one click.

What’s Available for Free: 

  • Group meetings up to 45 minutes each; one-on-one meetings have no time limit.
  • Up to 100 meeting participants
  • Screen sharing
  • Backgrounds. Note: This is different from virtual backgrounds, like in Zoom, where you can change what participants see behind you on your webcam. Backgrounds in Whereby are essentially wallpaper options for your virtual meeting room.
  • Breakout groups
  • Chat
  • TLS encryption
  • Ability to select end-to-end encryption
  • The “knock” feature prevents people from entering a locked meeting room.

Upgrade for These Features:

  • Unlimited group meeting duration
  • Recording
  • Custom branding
  • Custom subdomain
  • Priority support

2. Google Meet

Google Meet Price: Free plan available; paid plans start at $7.99/month (price will go up to $9.99 in January 2022)

Maximum Meeting Participants: 100

Google Meet is mostly browser-based (no software installation required), but it does have a mobile app for both Android and iOS, so you can host or join meetings from your smartphone. As part of Google’s suite of apps, Meet is a solid option, since many people have Google accounts anyway.

What’s Available for Free: 

  • Group meetings up to 1 hour each; 24-hour max duration for one-on-one meetings 
  • Up to 100 meeting participants
  • Screen sharing
  • Virtual backgrounds
  • Chat
  • Whiteboarding
  • Live closed captions
  • Encryption in transit and at rest

Upgrade for These Features:

  • 24-hour group meeting duration
  • 250 meeting participants on the Enterprise plan
  • Hand raising
  • Breakout rooms
  • Polls and Q&A
  • Recordings saved to Google Drive
  • Intelligent noise cancellation
  • 24/7 online support and community forums

3. Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams Price: Free plan available; paid plans start at $5 per user per month billed annually

Maximum Meeting Participants: 300

Had you even heard of Microsoft Teams before the pandemic? Due to the sudden rise in remote work, Teams took off in 2020, reaching 115 million daily active users in October. It’s become a favorite in the education space, thanks to its generous pricing plan and breakout rooms feature. Microsoft Teams is included in Office 365, which is free for educational institutions.

What’s Available for Free: 

  • Meetings up to 60 minutes each
  • Up to 100 meeting participants
  • Screen sharing
  • Virtual backgrounds
  • Breakout rooms (only available on desktop app)
  • Chat
  • Whiteboard app add-on is available
  • Encryption at rest and in transit
  • Virtual lobby

Upgrade for These Features:

  • 24-hour group meeting duration
  • 300 meeting participants
  • Live captions
  • Recordings
  • Phone and web support

4. Cisco Webex

Webex Price: Basic plan is free; paid plans start at $15/month

Maximum Meeting Participants: 200 on its Meet Plan but customizable on its Enterprise Plan

Founded in 1995 and acquired by Cisco in 2007, Webex is an established brand in the web conferencing space. A favorite among large corporate teams, Webex stands out in its meeting capacity: Its website says the Enterprise plan lets you customize the maximum number of attendees, adding, “We’ll work with you to find your ideal Webex solution.” 

In June 2021, Webex showed its ambition by announcing a new set of features. It introduced Webex Suite with hybrid work in mind, combining calling, meeting, polling, Q&A, and messaging into one platform. The company also said that, soon, it will add background voice removal to its meetings. 

What’s Available for Free: 

  • Meetings up to 50 minutes each
  • Up to 100 meeting participants
  • Local recording
  • Screen sharing
  • Virtual backgrounds
  • Breakout rooms
  • Chat
  • Notes, hand-raising, polling
  • Interactive whiteboarding
  • Unlimited messaging and file sharing
  • TLS 1.2 support
  • End-to-end encryption
  • HIPAA/BAA compliance
  • Lock personal room meetings
  • Online support

Upgrade for These Features:

  • 24-hour meeting duration
  • 200 or more participants
  • Recording transcriptions
  • Ability to add an alternative host
  • Encrypted cloud recordings
  • Chat and call-in support

5. Zoom

Zoom Price: Basic plan is free; paid plans start at $14.99/month

Maximum Meeting Participants: 1,000 on the Enterprise plan

Let’s face it: If you’re asked to join a video meeting, nine times out of ten, it’ll be on Zoom. While people have had privacy complaints about the popular web conferencing app (which Zoom has since addressed), it’s going to be tough to get around using this online meeting app at some point because it has the largest market share. And there’s a lot to be said for familiarity: If it works and everyone’s using it, why change to anything else?

What’s Available for Free: 

  • Group meetings up to 40 minutes each; one-on-one meetings have a 30-hour time limit
  • Up to 100 meeting participants
  • Local recording
  • Screen sharing
  • Virtual backgrounds
  • Breakout rooms
  • Private and group chat
  • Whiteboarding
  • TLS encryption
  • End-to-end encryption
  • Waiting room
  • Filters 

Upgrade for These Features:

  • 30-hour group meeting duration
  • 1,000 meeting participants on the Enterprise plan
  • Co-host and alternate host
  • Recording transcriptions
  • Live transcription
  • Cloud recordings
  • Ticket, live chat, phone support

6. Skype

Skype Price: Free for video conferencing

Maximum Meeting Participants: 100

Once a widely used video conferencing app, Skype’s popularity has been waning, especially since Zoom took off in 2020. In fact, Microsoft did away with Skype for Business in July 2021, encouraging everyone on that platform to switch to Microsoft Teams. 

Even so, it seems Skype for personal use is here to stay. It’s particularly useful for connecting with older generations who already have the app installed and are familiar with it.

What’s Available for Free: 

  • Unlimited duration on one-on-one and group video meetings
  • Up to 100 meeting participants
  • Recording
  • Screen sharing
  • Virtual backgrounds
  • Chat
  • End-to-end encryption
  • Real-time translation

7. GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting Price: Paid plans start at $12/month, billed annually. GoToMeeting offers a free 14-day trial without requiring payment information.

Maximum Meeting Participants: 3,000

Though not the lowest-priced software on this list, GoToMeeting has standout security capabilities that will make it a popular choice for institutions discussing sensitive information during meetings. The lack of breakout rooms may be a dealbreaker for teaching online classes, however.

Top Features on GoToMeeting:

  • No meeting duration limits
  • Up to 3,000 meeting participants on the Enterprise plan
  • Recording
  • Screen sharing
  • Co-organizers
  • Chat
  • Drawing tools
  • Meeting lock
  • Transcription
  • SSL encryption
  • ​​AES-256 bit encryption
  • Risk-based authentication
  • HIPAA compliant
  • 24/7 phone and web support

Which Online Meeting App Comes With Noise Cancellation?

On this list, there are two online meeting apps that come with some sort of noise cancellation: Google Meet has intelligent noise cancellation on its paid plan, and Webex now offers background noise removal

However, there is a totally free way to add noise cancellation to any online meeting app you choose. Krisp is an app that integrates with conferencing apps to remove unwanted sounds in the background, such as children crying, keyboards clicking, and cars going by. Our personal plan comes at no cost to you and provides 240 minutes a week of microphone and speaker noise removal. Just install it on your computer, and it can work with the online meeting apps you use.

Which Online Meeting App Will You Choose?

Ultimately, the online meeting app you choose for long-term use will heavily depend on your needs. Thankfully, every app on this list has a free plan or a free trial, so you can give each one a try to see which one you like best.