So you're sick of Zoom.
Maybe it's the privacy issues, the security issues, or just the whole misrepresenting its encryption thing. Regardless of the specific reason, you know that there has to be a better video-conferencing tool out there, and you're determined to find it. Enter Jitsi Meet, hosted on a PracticalHost Chat Vserver.
Much like Zoom, the free and open-source video-chat tool is easy to use and requires little-to-no onboarding. It's also encrypted, and doesn't sell your data. As an added bonus, you don't need an account and you don't need to download anything to start or join a meeting. Oh yeah, and it supports tile view.
Here's what you need to get started.
1. Setting up a call
Starting a call couldn't be easier. To begin, head to the Jitsi call page assigned by PracticalHost. By default, its https://chat.'yourdomain'.com. Once there, under the "start a new meeting" text, enter your desired meeting name. A quick note here: Make your meeting name unique Then click "Go."
That's it. You've started the call.
If you wish, you can also add a password to the call. This is a straightforward step.To add a password — right after you've started the call — click the "i" icon in the bottom-right corner of the screen.
Select "add password," and then enter your desired password in the blank field. Press enter, and your Jitsi call is now password protected.
2. Inviting friends
Because a video call isn't a video call without other participants, you need to invite them to join you. Jitsi makes this process as easy as sending your friends the meeting URL.
So, in the case of the above example, you would send your friends https://chat.easyhike.pt/camino. You can email, text, or WhatsApp it to them. Also let them know the meeting password if you did setup a password.
Then, all your friends have to do is drop that link into their browser of choice (Jitsi recommends Chrome, but Firefox also works just fine), enter the password, and they're good to go.
3. Tips and tricks
Jitsi offers a host of features that compete directly with paid video-conferencing tools. For starters, you can screen share, record meetings, and switch to tile view.
To switch the call to tile view, once the call has started click the four little boxes in the bottom-right corner. To switch back, click it again.
Jitsi lets you automatically blur your background. This is a neat tool that comes in handy for everything from hiding the fact that you didn't clean your room from your mom to obscuring details of your apartment to strangers.
To enable the blur, select the three vertical dots in the bottom-right corner of your screen. Next, select "blur my background."
Raise your hand and chat
We all know that video calls can be awkward, as people tend to speak over each other by mistake. Jitsi offers a fun solution with its "raise / lower your hand" tool.
If you click the hand icon in the bottom-left corner, other call participants will see a tiny hand icon pop up in the upper-left corner of your video. That way, your fellow callers will know that you have something important to say.
Perhaps you want share a thought with everyone, but don't want to interrupt to the conversation. That's where the chat box comes in. Just to the right of the hand icon, the chat icon opens up a text-based chat box. Chose a name for yourself, type in your message, and hit enter. That's all.
How to use Jitsi Meet on Android and iOS
If a user opens the shared invitation link on an Android or iOS device, they will be forwarded to the app store where they can quickly download the Jitsi Meet client. As soon as it installs, there will be able to “continue” and instantly access the video calling room. Again… you barely have to do anything other than press “install” and “Continue”. No sign-ups, no tracking, nothing.
If you want to initiate a meeting from your mobile phone, you need to setup the Server URL on the Jitsi mobile app to the same Jitsi call page assigned by PracicalHost, https://chat.'domain'.com