Google Meet vs Skype on Tethered 4G

During last April I've had to work via my phone's 4G data tethering. I did quite a few code pairing sessions with colleagues each week, and after feeling that Google Meet wasn't working good enough I decided to try Skype (which has quite a few years of focused product building behind). These are my findings.

As I was on 4G, I was probably under a very limited output bandwidth. I had no issues on the reception/input side (nor from the video-conferencing technology at least), but output was poor and the main the reason why I tested alternatives and kind-of measured them.

Most sessions were 1h non-stop meetings, of 2 participants + shared desktop (VS Code, Pycharm, OSX terminal, so not so many moving pixels). I always had OSX Activity Monitor open with the Network Info tab and, while I didn't wrote down the exact numbers of every session, I had plenty of sessions to compare both approaches until I had a decent internet connection again.

Data consumption

Google Meet: ~200 MB input data, ~50 MB output data.
Skype: [50,100] MB input data, [75, 100] MB output data.

Perceived audio quality

Google Meet: Good input, unstable output, sometimes ok, sometimes poor.
Skype: Good input, good output.

Perceived visual quality

Google Meet: Initially unstable input, but "settles down" and remains good meanwhile there's no application switching (e.g. between terminal and IDE). With movement clearly appreciable compression blocks. Same with output.
Skype: Excellent input (almost no compression noticed), good output.

Quality settings

Google Meet: Lowering the video quality to 360p only works if there's not much screen movement, else it feels we're back in the nineties with blocky compressed MPEG videos. Skype: There are no options as Skype handles video quality, resolution, etcetera automatically, and for once it simply works.

Conclusion

Meet is very convenient and good for normal meetings, presentations (without animations/videos, else is awful), team dailies and the like.

Skype has amazing visual quality and overall smaller data consumption without perceived data loss.

Still, whenever possible I prefer to use Live Share for VS Code so there's no need to stream a whole screen.

Posted by Kartones on 2020-05-20

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