Skip to main content

Zoom’s worst feature is being scrapped — but there’s a catch

New Zoom accessibility features
(Image credit: Zoom)

2020 is an odd sort of year for a lot of reasons, but none so impactful as the COVID-19 pandemic. With a virus raging, and thousands of people dying, you really shouldn’t be getting ready to travel long distances for the holidays.

Thankfully Zoom, which has already played a big part in keeping people together via the internet, will be removing its key restriction ready for Thanksgiving: video calls will no longer be limited to 40 minutes for users of the free version. 

Previously Zoom’s Basic plan limited meetings to 40 minutes if there were three or more participants, meaning you all had to pay if you all wanted to be on a video call that lasted any longer. With Thanksgiving, and other holidays coming, that doesn’t leave much time for a socially-distanced turkey dinner. So that particular restriction has been limited, but only for a short time.

Zoom announced on Twitter that the 40 minute limit was being suspended from midnight ET on November 26, until 6 a.m. ET on November 27. The restriction is being lifted across the world too, which is helpful if you’re an American living abroad and can’t make it home this year.

While it’s not clear if Zoom has any plans to do the same thing for other holidays (it's a little late for Diwali), this is a start. Millions of Americans would normally be getting together to celebrate Thanksgiving at the end of the month. But with no end in sight for the pandemic, it’s safer to stay at home. 

While plenty of people will be travelling regardless, those that aren’t don’t have to be left by themselves. Or forced to start a new meeting every 40 minutes.

Of course Zoom isn’t the only service that offers video calls, and you can just as easily get in touch via Skype, WhatsApp, Facetime, Facebook, and plenty of other messaging apps. So don’t feel obliged to sign up for a Zoom account just because there are no time restrictions for a single 30-hour period. 

Then again Zoom isn’t the only one that has time limits for free users. So it’s time to weigh up your options and figure out what’s right for you. Good thing Zoom just implemented end to end encryption