When Jio first launched in India, it went the route of ‘give, give, give, and then ask’, to gain new subscriptions. The telecom giant belongs to the Mukesh Dhirubai Ambani-led Reliance Group and has the Ambani kids looking into this vertical. The backstory to the JioMeet app is equally important as the app review itself. As a mobile network operator in India that started off in 2015, it’s the third-largest service provider in the world. The group offers many products like DTH, OTT television, Fiber Optic Broadband connectivity. Adding JioMeet, to cater to the requirements of video conferencing in our current lockdown and work-from-home status, is a natural progression.
With a captive audience of 387.5 million subscribers, it is easy for JioMeet to get attention, but what been brewing is its resemblance to Zoom. In a country like India, where Zoom is still struggling to establish its “US Origin” status and tackling the questions on privacy, data sharing, etc. this home-grown brew is making a huge dent.
Live Like Jio: Fearless
The literal translation of Jio in Hindi is to live, and that’s exactly what JioMeet intends for you to do – Live. Let’s tackle the cosmetics and uncanny vibe to Zoom. Last week was the perfect time for me to review the app, as it was my birthday week, and many family and friends wanted to connect with me via video calls. When I downloaded the app on the 6th of July 2020, it looked eerily familiar to the Zoom app.
The rounded features of the icon are the only giveaway that the one on the right is the JioMeet App. However, by the 11th of July 2020, the app had been upgraded, and below is what it looked like:
The color had changed to an orangish-red hue and the Jio branding was upfront and in-your-face. The vibe was not only about the app icon but also about the UI / UX. Below is what the two interfaces looked like on the 6th of July 2020:
To the left is what JioMeet looks like and to the right is what Zoom is. Below is what the app currently looks like on the desktop. Too close for comfort for Zoom, however with the change in looks, we see how JioMeet is trying to avoid a lawsuit of sorts.
JioMeet is yet to adopt the dark mode, hence it’s stark white, whereas Zoom adapts to the dark theme at nightfall.
JioMeet means business
The beta release of JioMeet hit the stores early this month and is a service for both professionals and non-commercial users (meaning families, tuition teachers, etc.). Compatible with Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. It also comes with a web app for the Linux users and an Outlook plugin, which allows you to launch meetings straight from Microsoft 365. When it comes to Zoom on the desktop, you have to launch all meetings via the app interface. However, with JioMeet, I can organize meetings and generate invite links that can be shared with anyone, directly from the browser.
With an invite link, you can join the call using your Chrome or Firefox browser without the need of downloading the app. I think this is a very clever proposition. You see, not only office professionals use video calling applications. For example, my Yoga teacher has been using Zoom for conducting the 1-hour yoga sessions online. Many of her students – silver generation – don’t want to download yet another app to their phone or desktop. Hence, this feature of directly joining via the browser is very helpful.
I must admit that the video quality of JioMeet is decent; it offers full high definition 720p video quality. The competition, namely Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams come with 1080p video. JioMeet allows you to connect a hundred people at one go. Again, competition is one-up in this segment – Microsoft Teams allows 250 folks and Zoom connects 500 people at one go. Presently JioMeet is a free app – remember the mantra of give-give-give and then ask flowed by Jio – that I discussed earlier in the article, is the foundation of the product.
JioMeet supports Meeting room connectivity and companies need not “replace their existing video conferencing hardware”, simply keep enhancing your infrastructure. One of the main concerns with 3rd party apps is the level of security and encryption that they follow. JioMeet offers password protection for calls. It also allows secure login for multiple devices. It can mask your Personal Meeting ID and lock meetings so that you prevent strangers from joining the conversation. Participants wait in a waiting room until the host allows you in.
I admit that it upset me that JioMeet was a copy-cat in terms of look and feel and tried to ride the Zoom wave. But using the app has made me appreciate the ease and conveniences it brings, and the differentiator it is trying to be. As a host, I can configure the system in a way that puts everyone on mute as they enter the video meeting. The auto-call recording feature is a good addition, and the upper limit for this is 24-hours! As lockdown continues in my city, the family weekly meetings are definitely moving to JioMeet. Though our team is still figuring if work meetings need to be moved to JioMeet.