Mozilla rates the video-calling apps; praises FaceTime for ‘holy grail’ of encryption

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A Group FaceTime call on the Mac.
FaceTime isn't perfect, but it's pretty great for encryption.
Photo: Apple

Video-calling apps are booming right now, but which ones can you trust when it comes to security? A Mozilla report published Tuesday assesses all the major platforms, noting which apps do and do not pass the privacy-conscious foundation’s minimum security standards.

The big takeaway? Most of the top video conferencing apps, FaceTime included, are actually impressively secure. But there are a few outliers.

Using the Space bar for Push to Talk makes Zoom calls bearable

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filthy spacebar zoom push to talk mute
Would you touch this Space bar?
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Zoom is the world’s favorite app during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite its flagrant privacy abuses, and a history of startlingly bad security holes, people are using the videoconferencing service for remote teaching, conference calls and virtual get-togethers.

If you — or your boss or a stubborn family member — insist on using this software rather than one of the safer Zoom alternatives, this Mac tip will save you a lot of trouble. Using the Push to Talk feature will make your Zoom life a lot easier.

Facebook takes on Zoom, Group FaceTime with free video calls for up to 50 people

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Facebook on Friday announced new video calling features including Messenger Rooms, which allows users to host video calls of up to 50 people.
Photo: Facebook

Facebook announced Friday it will add the ability for free video calling for up to 50 people on its new video-calling service, Messenger Rooms. The change is taking direct aim at the Group FaceTime and the popular Zoom service that has taken the world by storm as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The expanded service will launch by days end in selected regions with a smaller number of users at launch, but will not be available for the maximum number for a few more weeks, the company said. 

Zoom 5.0 aims to stamp out Zoombombing

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Zoom 5.0 brings much-needed security enhancements hoping to end Zoombombing.
When you’re having a Zoom meeting and Satan drops in unexpectedly? That’s Zoombombing.
Photo: Zoom/Cult of Mac

Zoom on Wednesday committed to upgrading the encryption in its video-chatting app. And Zoom 5.0, which will be out within the week, will include additional security controls for meeting hosts, like the ability to report disruptive users.

Use of this platform rose enormously since people around the world went into self quarantine. And criticism of Zoom’s security and privacy controls also increased dramatically as Zoombombing became a thing.

Sorry, FaceTime, no Zoom boom for you

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Group FaceTime is a great way to stay in touch with your family and friends during coronavirus quarantine.
Group FaceTime use apparently exists mainly in Apple publicity pictures.
Photo: Apple

Americans love Apple’s video chatting app FaceTime, according to the results of a survey released Wednesday. But they don’t use it for group chats. As a result, use of FaceTime hasn’t increased at all while millions of people around the world self quarantine.

Instead, rival Zoom has enormously increased in popularity in recent weeks.

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Which apps have been ruling the App Store during lockdown?
Photo: Apple

5 ways to look great on a video call

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Lighting? Check. Clothes? Maybe. Teeth? Absolutely! Flattering angle? Nope. Use these videoconferencing tips to look your best on calls.
Lighting? Check. Clothes? Maybe. Teeth? Absolutely! Flattering angle? Nope.
Photo: Austin Distel/Unsplash

Whether you’re working from home, hanging out with friends on group FaceTime, or attending events remotely, you’re probably using video calling a lot more than you ever have before. While you probably make the effort to present yourself well in real-life meatspace, on Skype, Zoom or FaceTime, I bet you look terrible.

Fear not. Today we’ll see five ways to make sure you look great on a video call.

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Zoom's kind of a big deal right now.
Photo: Allie Smith/Unsplash

Germany and Taiwan crack down on Zoom use by officials

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Zoom video conferencing for Mac
Some countries are worried about Zoom's security.
Photo: Zoom

Germany and Taiwan are cracking down on governmental use of videoconferencing app Zoom amid concerns that it might be too risky to use.

In an internal memo, the German foreign ministry restricted use of the service. The country said security and data-protection weaknesses make Zoom too dangerous to use, according to newspaper Handelsblatt. Taiwan also banned official use of Zoom for the same reasons.

CBS turns to FaceTime and Zoom to shoot new episode of All Rise

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All-rise
The cast of All Rise will be practicing social distancing while filming.
Photo: CBS

CBS has found a novel way to continue filming its TV show All Rise during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The courthouse legal drama will film a virtual episode using FaceTime, WebEx and Zoom from the actors’ homes making it the first primetime show to be filmed while still practicing social distancing.