RingCentral has long developed communication technology aimed primarily at midsize and larger businesses. Recently, however, it released a new video conferencing and team messaging platform, called RingCentral Video. The company’s previous video conferencing and messaging app was called Glip, but that’s now been rolled into RingCentral Video.
If you’re looking for a video calling app for your personal life, the free version of RingCentral Video is an attractive option, and it has a few key advantages over Zoom. If you’re looking for a business app for team communication that combines messaging and video calling, à la Slack, it’s a good option and, in fact, better for calls—though it doesn’t beat out Slack when you put the team messaging parts head-to-head.
For the business-grade video calling component, RingCentral Video comes close to rivaling our Editors’ Choice winners, including Cisco Webex, Intermedia AnyMeeting, and Zoom Meetings. It’s reliable, has excellent features, even at the free level, and lets people join calls without making them download apps or create accounts.
RingCentral Video offers in a limited free version, though what you get is generous. The paid Pro+ option costs $14.99 per person per month or $143.88 per person if you pay annually (equivalent to $11.99 per month). Accounts with 100 people or more pay $1 less per person per month.
The principal differences between the two plans are the number of participants allowed per call (100 on the free plan, 200 on the paid plan) and the amount of cloud storage you get for recorded meetings (10 hours versus 100). Other options can impact price for business customers, mainly the advanced analytics capabilities available in the paid plan.
With the free plan, you can have as many video meetings as you like, and calls can last 24 hours. You’re able to make video recordings, but RingCentral only stores them for you for seven days. You can integrate your account with Google Workspace as well as Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365, but not Salesforce, which is limited to paid accounts. The free plan is truly free and does not require a credit card to sign up.
With Pro+, RingCentral stores call for an entire year. Your administrator can enable single sign-on for your team either just for RingCentral or as part of a company-wide identity management platform—as long as it supports SAML. You get the added ability to dial-in people by calling any phone number from a meeting, with 500 minutes included per person on your account. Finally, your account comes with all integration options, including Salesforce, plus access to REST APIs in case you need to build custom integrations.
If your team is looking for a more robust business phone solution, see our review of RingCentral MVP, which has earned our Editors’ Choice award in that category for several years. Unfortunately, while you can use RingCentral Video on a personal level, the company has no dedicated product for residential voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone service.
How does RingCentral Video stack up against Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom Meeting regarding price and features? 
Compared with Slack and Microsoft Teams, RingCentral Video’s prices are competitive with their higher-end plans. For its paid plans, Slack is one of the most expensive team chat apps on the market. It costs $8–$15 per person per month, but Slack’s video calling capabilities are lightweight compared with RingCentral Video’s. Slack’s free plan is capable for very small teams, but its limitations become more noticeable the more people are in the account. 
Microsoft Teams has a free version, too, though most users will end up with the paid version because it’s included with Microsoft 365 Business. Many organizations that use Teams do so because they’re already paying for a Microsoft Business account. The price ranges from $5–$20 per person per month, though charged annually. 
What about Zoom? Paid Zoom plans start at $14.99 per person per month, so the price is the same. However, the most significant difference is that Zoom doesn’t include team messaging. It’s only a video calling app, though it’s still a top choice for business and personal use. Zoom’s free version is also generous, letting you host the same number of people on a call as RingCentral Video (100). That said, free Zoom calls are limited to 40 minutes when more than two people are on a call. RingCentral Video lets calls run for 24 hours. You also don’t get any video call recording with the free version of Zoom, but you do with RingCentral Video.
Other video calling and chat options include Google Meet, which is relatively average at the free level, and its underwhelming sibling Google Chat. Skype remains a reasonable Zoom alternative and no longer requires that you know someone’s Skype username to start a call. For personal use, FaceTime, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger may serve your needs, though you miss out on some features with those apps.
It takes little time to create an account with RingCentral Video. All you need is an email address and password. 
As mentioned, RingCentral previously offered a standalone team messaging app called Glip, which it’s retired and rolled into RingCentral Video. If you have a Glip account, you can use the same username and password to get into RingCentral Video.
You access RingCentral Video either using a web browser or via one of its dedicated apps. There are apps for Apple iOS and macOS, Google Android, and Microsoft Windows. To make use of all the features, you’ll need an internet or data connection, a webcam (for video), a microphone, and a speaker. The Windows app works on Windows 7 and later devices using at least a 1GHz CPU. The macOS requirements are similar: a 1GHz or better processor running macOS X 10.10 or later. For iPhones and iPads, you’ll need iOS 9.0 or later. And Android users merely need Android 5.0 or later.
When you invite people to join a call, they need not install any apps, and they don’t have to create an account. They can always join a call through a web browser or dial in by phone, similar to what Zoom offers. When participants join via browser, the only barrier to entry is that RingCentral asks for their name before they enter. Whatever name they use shows up on their video window for other participants to see. You and your participants can effectively retain a fair amount of privacy that way.
RingCentral offers plenty of resources for learning how to use the app, from in-app pop-ups to a YouTube channel full of tutorial videos.
During setup, RingCentral prompts you to add people to your account. Aside from integrating with a third-party identity management platform as mentioned above, you can also authenticate via your Google Workplace or Microsoft account and pull contact information from there. Or you can add a list of email addresses manually to send them call invitations later. Alternatively, you can skip this step entirely, depending on how you plan to use the app.
The initial interface you’ll see when you log in is Messaging, in other words, the team messaging area. Here, you can set up what RingCentral calls Teams, which some other apps, notably Slack, call channels. Teams can be private and include only invited people, or they can be public, meaning anyone can join them.
Buttons on the left let you jump to other app areas, notably Video for scheduling video meetings. You can start calls from the Video area, though you can also start them from the Message view if you want to have a call with your teammates.
RingCentral Video gives you all the basic video calling features you’d expect, even in the free account. You can share your screen, enable closed captioning, chat by text with other participants, and add a virtual or blurred background to protect your privacy. RingCentral Video offers HD video and audio no matter what tier of service you have. A Presentation mode is currently in beta, and it has some great options for overlaying your video on top of your presentation.
Missing is a whiteboard app, though you can always share your screen while using a third-party whiteboard app such as Miro or Mural. Still, it would be nice to have a whiteboard included for quick and easy brainstorming and visualizing ideas. Many video calling apps have a built-in whiteboard, including Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
You also won’t be able to give someone else on your video call remote control of your mouse and keyboard. That’s a handy feature, especially when so many help desk technicians now support users remotely. I’ve personally used this feature in Zoom on calls with young family members to let them “drive” a screen-sharing activity while I retain the ability to quickly revoke the controls if they accidentally click on anything they shouldn’t.
When scheduling, starting, or joining a video call, there are three views you can choose from, and you can change them at any time. The first is Film Strip View, which puts the active speakers’ video in the center of the window and puts other participants in smaller windows in a row across the top. The second is Active Speaker View, which shows only the active speaker. The third is Gallery View, which shows everyone on the call in equally sized windows, up to 49 participants simultaneously.
The app held up very well for test calls over a 100Mbps internet connection on Wi-Fi in terms of stability.
One of the features limited to paying members is Call Me/Call Out. It allows you to receive a call instead of dialing into a meeting, or you can connect participants by having RingCentral call them directly. For example, if you’re a busy person in a leadership position who constantly forgets about meetings, you could have your assistant call you into the session, and all you have to do is answer the call. Pro+ accounts get 500 minutes of Call Me/Call Out per person.
The RingCentral mobile app lets you take calls on mobile devices, send and receive messages, and otherwise use the app. You do need the app to make and receive video calls. The resulting page tells you to download the app if you try to open a URL to a meeting from a mobile device. However, if you want to join without video, you can simply dial in using the phone number provided in the meeting invitation.
In testing, our free account offered only a California number for the dial-in, not a toll-free number or an option for international dialers. If you want to offer toll-free numbers or international numbers, you need to switch to RingCentral MVP, an end-to-end business-oriented VoIP calling platform. By contrast, Zoom provides a little more flexibility. Zoom participants can dial into meetings using a standard (toll) phone number if the host has a paid plan. Hosts have an option to pay an extra monthly charge for an add-on, which adds toll-free calling and other dial-in options.
Say you join a meeting from the mobile app but then return to your desk. Wouldn’t you then want to switch to using your computer instead of the phone? You’ll need to hang up the call and rejoin from the desktop using most competing products. But RingCentral makes this an easy and seamless switch. The app detects that you’re currently on a call on another device and displays a message at the top of the screen asking if you want to move the call here. RingCentral transfers the call, connects you on the desktop, and disconnects the mobile call by clicking that message. It works vice versa, too. Zoom offers something similar, but it takes a little know-how and more tapping and clicking to make it happen.
Like Slack, RingCentral gives you a Personal Meeting ID (PMI). This is a permanent numerical ID that you can use at any time to start or schedule a meeting. While PMIs are handy, it’s important to know that they’re reusable. Let’s say you received a meeting invitation with a PMI. You decided to verify that the link works (please, do not do this!). If you opened the meeting invite URL and the person who owned the PMI was currently on another call, you could end up crashing that meeting. Likewise, be careful of sharing your PMI publicly because then anyone could try to crash your other meetings. As I said, this problem is the case for all services that offer PMIs, not just RingCentral Video, as well as reusable meeting links (e.g., Google Meet).
For your security, it’s a good idea to change your PMI from time to time, which you can do in the RingCentral app settings. You can also set a required password for meetings that use your PMI, and you can also change it from time to time.
Designated meeting moderators get a host of controls, including buttons to mute attendees and disable their cameras. Hosts can also send a request to any participant asking them to unmute themselves or enable their cameras. Participants can virtually raise their hands or initiate a private chat with another participant.
A waiting room feature lets you keep attendees out of a meeting room until you’re officially ready to start. Hosts also get breakout rooms for group activities during a call. All these features come in the free plan, which is great, though you get the same features for free with Zoom.
One moderator control that RingCentral Video does not have is an organized question-and-answer (Q&A) feature. The one included in ClickMeeting is perhaps the best you’ll find. 
Much of RingCentral Video’s functionality is standard. For example, you can have public or private Teams (which other apps call channels) and direct message chats with colleagues. Putting an @ before someone’s name alerts them to your post. Every person gets a status indicator to show whether they’re available, in do-not-disturb mode, or offline/unavailable. You can customize the audio alerts to be different sounds for different types of notifications, such as an @ notification versus a direct message. You can upload and share files. 
One exceptional feature is RingCentral’s built-in viewers, which let you open and view uploaded files and add comments to image files without leaving the interface. Those comments are saved so that when other people open the file, they see them too.
As mentioned previously, the team chat piece of RingCentral Video was formerly a standalone product called Glip. It’s been rebranded and rolled into the RingCentral app (which is how RingCentral refers to the app at large, whereas “RingCentral Video” is technically just the name of the service tier).
Not all the old Glip features have survived the move. Regrettably, a team calendar seems to have gotten the ax, though I suppose most people now use Google Calendar or Outlook Calendar instead, and you can connect them to RingCentral. Apple Calendar works, too. You can also install add-ons for Gmail or Outlook that let you schedule meetings from your calendar with all the call details included and adjust the password security requirements without leaving your calendar.
Another change from Glip is that tasks were once in their own section but are now integrated into messages. To create a task, you must post it as a message to a Team (i.e., channel). If you want to keep it private, you can post it to yourself as a direct message, which somehow qualifies as a Team. It’s all a bit clumsy and would benefit from another redesign or a whack from the same ax that got to the old calendar.
RingCentral’s app does have a few other notable features. One is the ability to sync info from recorded meetings to a Team. Whenever you record a meeting with that group, all the resulting data gets logged and becomes searchable from the Team message area. That’s impressive. Another is called Huddle, which lets you instantly start a video call for all members of a Team with two clicks. When you start this call, an invitation to join appears in the Team channel. Slack recently created a similarly named feature, though it’s just an audio call, not video.
I’d caution you not to join more than one organization in RingCentral using the same email address. It’s possible, but it gets messy quickly. The reason it gets messy is each account does not use a unique login URL. If you join multiple accounts, all the content from all the accounts is visible in one interface. There isn’t any separation. In other words, all the Teams (i.e., channels) you’ve joined show up in one interface, regardless of which account they’re in.
Let’s say you have a RingCentral login for work and another one for a town committee that you’re on. Both your work and the committee have a Team called Volunteers. When you log into your account, you’ll see two Teams called Volunteers, with no way to tell which one is which. Additionally, your profile picture and any profile status update you make (such as “at lunch” or “out of office”) sync and become visible across all your accounts. If you want to mark yourself as available to your work colleagues but unavailable to your fellow committee members, you can’t. 
Slack avoids this problem by giving each group a unique URL for logging in. Slack specifically supports having multiple accounts and has designed its interface elegantly so that accounts are kept separate, and it’s always clear which account you’re viewing. If you’re a part of more than one Slack group, a menu bar on the left side shows you icons for each account. You can jump between those groups easily. You can even set a unique color theme for each group (for example, blue interface is a committee, black is work) to help you differentiate them without thinking about it.
Compared to many of its competitors, RingCentral has an exceptionally long list of third-party integrations, and you can browse, search, and download them in the RingCentral App Gallery. An important capability here is that it integrates well with other communication tools, such as Slack and Microsoft Teams. I already mentioned calendar integration, which is super important for scheduling meetings.
RingCentral can also work with popular productivity and office apps, including the rest of Google Workspace and Microsoft 365, Asana, Evernote, Trello (via an add-on that’s in beta), a variety of customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, and some apps for vertical needs, like healthcare. The Gallery primarily shows integrations built by RingCentral, but there’s a section for community and partner-built integrations, too.
RingCentral Video is comparable with Slack and Microsoft Teams, but those apps have several strengths that are lacking in RingCentral’s product.
RingCentral Video is undoubtedly a much better tool for video conferencing than Slack. But for team messaging, Slack is hard to beat. One of its best features is the degree to which you can customize notifications, right down to keywords. That means you can have Slack notify you whenever someone uses a keyword that you want to track. That way, you don’t have to pay close attention to every single post in every single channel. If someone mentions a particular client or project for which you’ve set up a keyword, you’ll know about the conversation.
People also love that Slack makes it easy not to take work conversations too seriously, with a wealth of emoji, reacji, fun plug-ins, and the ability to upload custom emoji. The RingCentral app has some of those features, but not all of them, and the overall fun spirit of Slack is hard to duplicate.
Microsoft Teams’ greatest strength is how tightly it integrates with other Microsoft 365 apps. If your team is already invested in the Microsoft ecosystem, it just makes sense to use Teams for chat, file-sharing, video calls, and so forth. Beyond that, it does have a few nice touches, such as templates for creating new Teams (aka channels). That way, when you set up a new Team, you can instantly have all the right user settings and installed apps for specific use cases, such as event management, crisis response, and so forth. Microsoft supplies templates that you can use out of the box or customize the premade templates. You can also build your own templates.
RingCentral Video shows a lot of promise by offering a unified team messaging and video calling app targeted at small-to-midsize businesses. The free version is an attractive alternative to Zoom, especially because there’s essentially no time limit for group calls. We can see how the Call Me/Call Out feature might win over a busy executive for business use. RingCentral representatives also mentioned a few features coming in 2022 that could make the app even more appealing for business users. However, they won’t influence our rating until they’re ready for testing.
For now, the price is right for the paid version of RingCentral Video and the free version is generous. It very nearly rises to the level of an Editors’ Choice product, but its team messaging feature needs more polish. For the time being, our Editors’ Choice picks remain Webex Business, Intermedia AnyMeeting, and Zoom Meetings for video calls, and Slack for team messaging. That said, you could make the argument that Slack for team messaging and RingCentral Video for video calls is a premium combo.
Jill Duffy is a contributing editor, specializing in productivity apps and software, as well as technologies for health and fitness. She writes the weekly Get Organized column, with tips on how to lead a better digital life. Her first book, Get Organized: How to Clean Up Your Messy Digital Life is available for Kindle, iPad, and other digital formats. She is also the creator and author of ProductivityReport.org.
Before joining PCMag.com, she was senior editor at the Association for Computing Machinery, a non-profit membership organization for computer scientists and students. She also spent five years as a writer and managing editor of Game Developer magazine, …
PCMag is obsessed with culture and tech, offering smart, spirited coverage of the products and innovations that shape our connected lives and the digital trends that keep us talking.