Video chatting has become the new classroom for many schools across the country, bridging the distance between remote teachers and students. Synchronous learning via video chats is the closest thousands can get to in-person classes this fall. That means that having reliable ways to video chat is critical for successful distance learning. Even for schools using hybrid learning models this fall, connecting at-home students to in-person classes takes a dependable conferencing tool.
However, major video chatting apps (Zoom, Meets, Skype, and others) have left a lot to be desired for the thousands of schools running on Chromebooks. Districts working with Chromebooks (particularly those with AMD processors) have had major issues with call quality and reliability reporting “very choppy video and intermittent loss of audio [that] gets progressively worse as the number of meeting participants increases” (Source). Those issues can be seen across all widely used conferencing apps and are keeping educators from delivering the very best learning experiences they can.
Up until now, Chromebooks and video chatting simply didn’t mix well. Conferencing tools ate up more CPU than such devices could handle. Thankfully, for the 30+ million students and educators using Chromebooks, video calls are being brought up to snuff with a series of updates from Zoom and Google!
New Patches and Updates
On September 22, Zoom released an update that has been confirmed to improve performance dramatically. We heard from a customer–a particularly tech-savvy one at that–about this latest improvement:
We definitely saw a big improvement with the new Zoom version. The CPU utilization average was 15-20% lower during the Zoom meeting. We were able to have a zoom meeting with 9 participants with no audio or video issues. The video definitely wasn’t as sharp and if there was fast movement there was some stuttering but overall it was acceptable. [We] can actually have a meeting! Difference of night and day with the previous version!
Not using Zoom? You’re still in luck. In addition to Zoom’s latest update, Google is also pushing out an update that targets performance issues that will affect all video conferencing apps. The new Chrome OS version (v85.0.4183.133) has shown significant reductions in CPU consumption for Zoom, Meets, and some other tools. The rolling updates are expected to be fully available for all models by October 1st.
The FireFly tech team wanted to see how to update worked for themselves. They performed internal testing where they checked video quality, call reliability, and audio synchronization. From what we can tell on our end, the update truly has made a significant improvement. Take a look at these test results:
These combined updates should make video collaboration apps significantly more viable on Chromebooks, especially ones with the AMD processors. They have cut the CPU usage in half, resulting in a much better user experience.
You’re the Expert!
We would love to hear from you about video chatting on Chromebooks! If you have any expertise, tips, or tricks you want to share with other tech professionals, submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org.