For a long time, Skype had been considered the best brand in the VoIP application space. The brand became so popular that the term Skype found its way into the dictionary as a verb. However, the service was marred by the poor quality of calls, frequent crashes, and distrust leveled against Microsoft. This resulted in Skype losing its appeal among a vast majority of its first users despite making major changes to the service later on.
As the use of Skype declines, many other options have come up, and they are getting better with each passing day. This is good news for any Skype user out there who is thinking about finding an alternative to the service. Depending on the kind of usage, such as video conferencing and connecting with friends and family, there are different options out there that users can consider as Skype substitutes. Seven of these options are going to be discussed below.
Here are the best Skype alternatives:
Appear.in (iOS and the Web)
Appear.in is arguably one of the simplest ways to place a call. The service does not require any signing up to start utilizing it. Furthermore, users do not need to download anything to enjoy the service although an iOS application is available for those who are interested.
The user simply needs to create something called a Room Link and then share the link with whomever he or she wants to have a conversation with. When the link’s recipient clicks on the link, the room opens on their end of the browser, on both computer and mobile settings. Users have the option of choosing between using either voice or video calling, and they can also share their screens. For those with privacy concerns, they can have their call locked to prevent anyone else from joining in just in case they found the unique link.
Viber is one of the most popular ad-free international calling options out there and is available on most platforms, including all the major desktop operating systems. It provides the option of voice and video calling as well as free text chat to anyone who has the application. The current number of users stands at over 800 million.
Besides having conversations, Viber also facilitates the sharing of documents, images, as well as video files through the application. All these messages are usually encrypted for privacy and security concerns. Viber goes further in trying to set itself apart from its competitors by offering some interesting games for users to engage in with their friends. Varieties of public chats are also available so that the user can follow up on their favorite topics.
Google Hangouts (Android, iOS and the Web)
Google Hangouts has been around for a shorter time but has become popular as a rival to Skype. According to most users who have also had experience with Skype, Hangouts offers a far much better calling experience. It allows having a simultaneous voice or video call with up to 10 contacts on its smartphone applications and includes a messaging option too.
Hangouts utilizes contacts saved in a user’s phone or their email contacts as long as they are also Hangouts users. Calls to these users are entirely free as long as there is a working internet connection. Calls to landlines and mobile phones can be placed from Hangouts too free to most United States and Canada numbers. For other calls though, the user has to load some credit into their account and pay a little per-minute call charge.
ooVoo is a cross-platform application that allows users to make free calls to other oVoo users and paid calls to standard phone and landline users. It includes a video calling option, which supports group calling with one of the best user experiences that can be offered by similar applications. A single web-based oVoo chat can take up to a dozen people at once at free without signing up as long as they have a unique code sent to them. It supports call recording and has a screen sharing option too besides also being a messaging application. ooVoo employs a working principle similar to that of WhatsApp but adds the option to call landlines and make a web-based call to anyone.
Voca (Android, iOS)
Voca comes with free user-to-user calls and has some of the cheapest international calling rates that can be found on the current market. All it requires is a stable internet connection to provide affordable international call rates to more than 230 countries worldwide. Calls rates to standard phones and landlines within the United States cost as little as $0.001 on Voca. Other call rates can be found on the Voca website.
Messages, video and voice calls are completely free as long as the users on both ends are using the Voca application. The application, however, requires a stable internet connection, Wi-Fi or data to work effectively. All calls made, and messages sent through Voca are encrypted for maximum security and privacy for the users.
Talky (iOS, Web)
Being a simple video chatting platform that also facilitates the screen sharing option for groups, Talky works almost exactly as Appear.in works. It is simple to use, and all a user has to do is select a room name, get a unique link and then share this link with a maximum of 15 other people. The call then becomes accessible to all these people through their web browsers without having to sign up for anything. Once the call goes live, users can toggle their microphones and cameras on and off and have their conversation through message chatting. Once every user is online, the chat can be locked to prevent stray additions into the conversation in case someone else accidentally got the invitation link. Talky cannot, however, be used to make both domestic and international calls to standard phones and landlines.
WhatsApp (Android, iOS, Windows, Desktop, Web)
WhatsApp is probably the most known of all the applications mentioned above. It has the largest number of users alongside its security-obsessed alternatives such as Telegram, Signal, and Threema. Despite being available on almost all available platforms, the WhatsApp calling feature only works on the Android, Windows, and iOS applications.
WhatsApp popularity has seen it attract over one billion users across the globe. It initially came into the market as purely a messaging application used to communicate with family and friends, but the application has since grown to offer both video and voice calling with an ever-improving user interface.
The calls made through WhatsApp utilize an internet connection, either data or Wi-Fi, rather than a phone network. WhatsApp calls can only be made to other WhatsApp users. Unlike the other applications mentioned in this article, it does not support group calling. For non-users, an invite can be sent giving them a link to download the application and sign up for WhatsApp.
Is it Worth it to Move Away from Skype?
Skype has been the default voice calling option for many out there, especially organizations. However, most are shifting to other options such as the ones discussed above. The options offer a visibly better user experience and are, therefore, slowly overtaking Skype. This is owed to the fact that even big organizations are now opting to use the likes of Google Hangouts instead.
Skype lost its chance to set itself apart from the rest back when there was little or no competition. It now has to play catch up in a race that is seemingly already lost considering the rate at which the competitors are constantly upgrading their services. It is only a matter of time before the remaining Skype users cross over to the other services considering the declining usage being seen at the moment.
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