2020 is a strange kind of year for many reasons, but nothing is the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the virus spreading and thousands of people dying, you don’t have to be prepared for long-distance travel for the holidays.
Thankfully, Zoom, which has already played a big role in keeping people together online, will remove its main Thanksgiving-ready limitations: video calls won’t be limited to 40 minutes for users of the free version.
Zoom’s basic plan previously limited meetings to 40 minutes if there are three or more participants, which means you all have to pay if you want to be in a video call that lasts longer. With Thanksgiving and other holidays to come, that won’t leave much time for the turkey dinner out of the community. So this special restriction is restricted, but only for a short period.
Zoom on Twitter announced that the 40-minute limit has been suspended from midnight ET on November 26, until 6 AM ET on November 27. The restriction has been lifted worldwide as well, which is helpful if you are an American living abroad and you may not be coming home this year.
As a thank you to our customers, we will raise the 40-minute limit for all meetings globally from midnight ET on November 26th until 6 AM ET on November 27 so that you don’t cut short family gatherings. Z #ZoomTogether pic.twitter.com/aubsH0tfxGNovember 10, 2020
Although it’s unclear if Zoom has any plans to do the same on other holidays (it’s a bit late for Diwali), that’s a start. Millions of Americans usually gather to celebrate Thanksgiving at the end of the month. But with no end in sight to the epidemic, it is safer to stay home.
While many people will travel regardless, those who don’t have to be left alone. Or forced to start a new meeting every 40 minutes.
Of course Zoom isn’t the only service that offers video calling, and you can call easily via Skype, WhatsApp, Facetime, Facebook and a lot of other messaging apps. So you don’t feel obligated to sign up for a Zoom account just because there is no time limit of one 30 hours.
Then again, Zoom isn’t the only one with time limits for free users. So it is time to weigh your options and see what works for you. A good thing is Zoom has just implemented end-to-end encryption.