Long gone are the times when letters and costly phone calls once a month were the only connections to our beloved people living abroad. Now distance doesn’t matter and communication is easier than ever. But how to choose the best way to talk to your family and friends, without paying a single penny and enjoying a smooth clear conversation? Here are some of the top applications and their pros and cons.
Let’s start with the pioneers: 14 years ago Skype revolutionized communication by giving people the option to talk free via internet. Skype to skype has quickly become people’s favourite way to communicate, plus it offered a video option. Originally a desktop application, nowadays Skype is available for iOS and Android phones and tablets and is still the best option if you’d like to have a business conference call with up to 25 people to participate in a group meeting, with the addition of file and screen sharing. Unfortunately, not everything on Skype is free. For example, if you call a landline or cellphone from your smartphone via Skype that will cost you—depending on the country (calling a UK mobile number is 9 euros and a landline costs 2.1 cents). You can also have a monthly subscription which is around 7-8 euros depending on the country.
WhatsApp – probably Europe’s favourite app for free calls. Globally it has 1 billion subscribers in over 180 countries and unlike Skype doesn’t require a user name – just your phone number. It’s free of charge and the only thing you need is a stable internet connection. Of course, there is an option to leave an offline text message and recently WhatsApp added a feature similar to Snapchat that offers members the option to share their photos and videos. Its available on Desktop, iOS and Android.
Facetime – very simple to operate app, a favourite among modern grannies who want to speak to their beloved grandchildren. Unfortunately, being an Apple software works only on iPhone, iPad, or Apple Macintosh. Requires phone number or Apple ID and you can start making free phone calls. Unlike other apps it comes directly within the apple software.
Viber – Very similar to WhatsApp with options to send text, photos and make free calls to other Viber users. Reach package of emoticons and stickers for additional entertainment. Best feature of the app is Viber Out which allows you to call non-Viber users or landline for free. You are only restricted by certain minutes. Available for both iOS, Android and also Desktop.
Facebook Messenger – With over 1 billion users coming from Facebook FM has already step ahead from other applications. It has excellent audio quality and stable connection, you can have video conversation or simply instant chat. It can be used both via your Desktop Facebook or installed as separate app on your mobile device.
And two interesting ones you’ve probably never heard of:
Tango – currently with 350 million users, Tango offers free video chat similar to Snapchat, messaging, video calls. Offers private one to one conversations, as well as a “share” button to connect with major social networks. Works both for smartphones and tablets.
Vonage – “Text one, text all!” is Vonage motto and originally this where they started from – free group messages up to 50 participants. Now the company offers free calls and free video chat along with a paid service of low-cost international phone calls and special Small Business Phone system useful for businesses with up to 50 employees.