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Monday, November 28, 2022

Why Around.co is the best alternative to Zoom out there

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Around is the best remote team meeting tool. Zoom and Google Meet are fine, but Around has a set of features that make it a better choice in my opinion. Free to download, easy to use. Just start a meeting and share a link.

get my screen back

Round takes up a lot less of my screen. No clunky menus. Participants appear in small circles, so I have room to see my browser, note-taking app, slides, or whatever. Zoom, Google Meet, Teams, et al. have more menus and eat more of my monitor.

Softer self-image

Around offers subtle filters to reduce the distraction when you see yourself front and center while talking to someone. You can change or remove filters, but I find they make it easier not to worry about how I come across on screen.

Built-in Notes

In a special shared tab, everyone in your meeting can take notes, share links, or add information for everyone to see. Unlike Zoom’s waterfall-like chat box which cannot be edited or reorganized, Around’s notes can be edited or rearranged. The notes are automatically emailed to the meeting host, who can then share them with everyone. I love having built-in notes instead of having to open individual apps in multiple windows.

Feeling

To reduce the awkwardness of meeting openings when people gradually arrive, Around has a new feature that allows you to add a music vibe and a moving background image. You can go to another song, adjust the volume and turn it off whenever you want. (This is a new feature; I noticed a bug where the music speed can be uneven at times.)

Timers

Add a small timer to keep your meeting on time. It is useful if you are leading short, timed activities or if you want to keep a meeting agenda on track.

Share comments, quick texts or gifs

A small text box below everyone’s video circle makes it easy for any participant to share a quick text response or link. You can also share a gif that will appear directly in your video window. It’s all part of the Around aesthetic, which is a bit more relaxed and creative than the more buttoned-up Zoom style.

Echo Cancellation

For hybrid meetings, Around usefully eliminates the annoying echo effect that sometimes occurs when more than one meeting participant is in the same room. Instead of having to send people to separate physical rooms to avoid the echo, just use Around.

  • Switch to audio-only mode to talk freely without worrying about video.
  • Use minimal mode to get your full screen back to work, or campfire mode to see a medium circle of those you’re meeting with.
  • Share the screen just like you would with other meeting tools.
  • Remind guests that they don’t need to download the Around app – they can join directly from a web link you send them.
  • Use the “Face Mask” mode to clarify muffled speech for those who wear masks.
  • Add the . please Slack plugin to start meetings directly from Slack.
  • Shortcut keys make it easy to communicate quickly in a meeting. M = mute/unmute; H = raise hand; U = thumbs up; W = wave hello or bye.
  • Here is how the Around team uses its own product for meetings.
  • No polling or breakout room function
  • Limited to 50 participants
  • The recording feature had not yet been launched (at the time of writing)
  • It takes a while to get used to Around’s interface. The first time I meet someone on Around, they need a moment to situate. Usually they say they appreciate the break from the usual Zoom interface. Sometimes they are a bit confused when they come across something new, but most of the time they like it.

This article was republished with permission from “Wonder Tools”, a newsletter that helps you discover the most useful sites and apps. register here.

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