A new video chat app has just made a timely appearance in India. With the anti-Chinese fervour at an all-time high, the new app offers Indian users an alternative that makes sure video calls don’t whiz by the Chinese servers that the popular Zoom is thought to be using. JioMeet isn’t meant for any Chinese ears that may be listening in on Indian video calls, but in every other way, it looks like a copy of Zoom, so much so that people are joking that it should have just been named Jio Zoom.
Users of Zoom, which has had more than one security issue plaguing it, will find JioMeet entirely familiar. A screen-by-screen comparison shows that the interface for the app just happens to be exactly the same. Accessing it on Android, one will find the same menu on the bottom, listing options to mute the mic, see participants, or get into the extended menu.
A swipe right enables driving mode in the same way. The transition from Zoom to Jio Meet couldn’t be easier, at least for the basic functions. Zoom actually has a premium mode without which three users can chat for an unlimited time but more than that have a 40-minute time limit — after which they can just reconnect in a new meeting. Jio Meet lets a 100 users talk for 24 hours for free, if they have the will to do so, that is. It’s available to everyone regardless of whether they use other Jio products or not.
Available on Android, Apple store
JioMeet is available on Android and on the Apple store, even for the Mac. You can also use it via a browser. Signing up and signing in is easy enough. Use your phone number or email and just put in a good password. You invite others to join a meeting the same way as you do on Zoom; the easiest is to send them a link with the meeting password which self generates with the invitation. Video calls turn out nice and clear - for now, at least — and sound fine as well. While Zoom’s breakout meetings and background customisations are missing, you can share your device’s screen with a singe tap to make a presentation to even collaborate on something. Users will find they can even collaborate on watching a YouTube video together, which is interesting.
The feature set for JioMeet is simple but limited. The app is no match for Microsoft Teams, which is a more comprehensive and sophisticated collaboration tool. That and other solutions such as from Google, Adobe and Zoho are meant for workplace collaboration and need business accounts for premium features.
Zoom has risen to popularity because it’s pared these down while opening up the limit for participants and for the time the meeting is permitted more than is typical. If it were but not beset by its security issues. But in choosing to lift off the interface design from Zoom, Jio Platforms has only starkly reminded users of Zoom. On social media a backlash greets the new app as people wonder why the trouble couldn’t be taken to make it an all-new solution of their own.
“Why waste time and resources in designing,” says one user on Twitter, “Just do things we are good at.. copy and paste.” Much the same sentiment has been echoed by other posters. Resources is something Jio Platforms should have no shortage of: Intel Capital has just invested ₹1,894.50 crore in the company.