How Has COVID-19 Affected Communication App Usage in the UK?

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COVID-19 has led to many changes in life, some of which aren’t always negative. Video calling apps have experienced a substantial rise in popularity and numbers of new users have increased at a rapid rate. A recent study has shown exactly how the most popular apps have been coping, you can see more here: Despite the seemingly positive effects of more users, not every provider was prepared for this.

As increasing numbers of people were restricted to the confines of their own homes, modern technology proved invaluable with being able to communicate with colleagues, clients, loved ones and service providers. Users at this scale could never have been predicted and surges in this appeared spiked almost overnight.

In this article, we take a look at the key findings of the study and how Zoom, Cisco Webex, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams handled this new demand. 30,000 app store reviews were taken and looked at between January-July 2020 and then compared against the same months of 2019 to see how COVID-19 has impacted performance and user experience.

Cisco Webex

With the announcement of the pandemic back in March, schools and universities were some of the first institutions to shut. However, this didn’t put a stop to learning. Cisco Webex teamed up IBM to provide video calling software to over 24,000 schools in the UK to prevent any disruption in learning.

New user reviews spiked in April for Cisco Webex, with a total of 465 in this month. This sudden rise put Cisco’s servers to the test and it appears they were not up for the task. Technical issues were experienced frequently and for long periods and these dropouts led to a meagre average star rating of just 3.0 out of 5.0.

Educators, students and parents became increasingly annoyed at the level of service they were being provided by Cisco and with the stress of distance learning always high, this was the final straw for many.


Always a popular choice, it’s no surprise that Zoom saw the highest number of new users in 2020. 2,533 new user reviews were reported in April alone, compared to 221 in the same month last year.

Unfortunately for Zoom, this led to them being a huge target for hackers with so many new users and valuable data being held within internal servers. This led to a huge security breach in the summer and led to worldwide news reports and negative PR for the company.

Alongside this breach, Zoom fell victim to struggling technology and as their systems tried to meet the demands of new users, crashes and dropouts became more frequent. This led to a low rating of just 3.72 out of 5.00 compared to a more respectable 4.21 at the same time in 2019.

Zoom has since been trying to implement new features and benefits to lure disgruntled users back to their services, including exclusive live events.

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts quickly got themselves ahead of competitors at the beginning of the pandemic and adapting their services at a swift pace. Larger businesses opted for this service as they began to allow up to 250 participants in each conference and up to 10,000 viewers during live streaming sessions.

Lecturers quickly saw the benefit of this and with the issues Cisco Webex was having, many made the switch to be able to stream to thousands of students at one time.

As the only provider who appeared to be prepared for such a huge influx of users, Google Hangouts reported no major technical difficulties during the first half of 2020 and finished the study with a very respectable 4.21 stars out of 5.0.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is the newest addition to the video calling software sector within this study. Lack of experience proved apparent with frequent technical issues throughout the pandemic. They saw their peak in users back June 2020, with new reviews at 1,244 for the month.

Even when they began to provide up to 10,000 users within one call, users were not satisfied with the service they were given. Connection faults and issues with logging in were only some of the problems the public were faced with and led to a rather poor result of 2.23 stars out of 5.0.

The Results

Despite technical issues, negative PR and a large number of unhappy users, Zoom still saw a rise of 474% in new users over lockdown and is still the most popular video calling software provider.

It comes as no surprise that Microsoft Teams suffered the most with just 15% in growth over 2020 and the worst reviews of all the providers.


About Neel Achary 19629 Articles
Neel Achary is the editor of Business News This Week. He has been covering all the business stories, economy, and corporate stories.