Skype has been the literally the go-to choice when it comes to video chatting. But before the rise of Skype, I vividly remember how we used to make a beeline to the cyber cafe in order to use Yahoo Messenger. During the early 2000’s webcam was a luxury and so was an internet connection. Fast Forward 2017, tons of video chatting app float around different app ecosystem and most of them leave behind the crudeness of older Messenger apps and beg to differ.
In fact, it’s worth mentioning that literally all of the Messaging platforms have pivoted to video call feature. For instance, WhatsApp is arguably one of the most popular messaging apps globally and now it has started to offer video call feature, similar is the case with other messaging platforms like — FaceBook Messenger, Viber, and WeChat etc.
However, when it comes to the desktop the options are not so diversified and only a handful of the Skype alternatives prove their mettle. On the other hand, some of the Skype alternatives like Facetime is limited to MacOS and aims at catering to a niche of its own. Let’s have a look at some of the best Skype alternatives out there and what they have to offer,
1. Google Hangouts
Some of us have been harboring a notion that Google Hangouts as a product is on its deathbed but I, however, beg to differ. It is one of the best Skype alternatives out there and the Google integration adds an extra layer of functionality, especially for users who use Google and related services extensively. The Hangouts will let you call other Hangout users free of cost and the free version will support a group call between a maximum of 10 people. As I said earlier since it’s paired to your Google account it should only be easier to reach out to people.
One can also call mobile and landline numbers at affordable rates and can use Google Voice to call for free in Canada and USA. Users can also group chat, exchange media files and use the Hangouts app on the smartphone.
Google Hangout is available across all platforms including on Web Browser.
Related: 10 Best Google Chrome VPN Extension
Although I haven’t used Viber recently owing to the advent of WhatsApp the app still works great. The web counterpart of the popular messaging app used to offer free VoIP calls between the Viber users but not with the Viber out it also offers the ability to call landline/mobile numbers across multiple platforms. I personally love the bare basic interface and yes it is somehow reminiscent of Skype. Also, Viber Out offers competitive tariffs for nearly all the countries.
Once signed in Viber automatically syncs with the contacts on your phone and also segregates the Viber users from the nonusers, this way you will able to figure out who else uses Viber and is online. Furthermore, you can also send text, photo, sticker messages and ongoing calls between devices.
Viber is available on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS.
The Internet is not something I would term as a safe space, in fact, it is far from it. With the meteoric rise in cyber attacks including malware, ransomware, snooping and digital surveillance it is better to be careful. Privacy advocates have been advocating against the usual bunch of video calling platforms which according to them have been the perfect destination for the corporations or Governments to snoop on users. Tox is one of the most secure messaging apps and the best part is that unlike other services it is completely free for lifetime and wait for it, no advertising!
The Tox took birth at a time when Edward Snowden’s revelations rattled the regulatory authorities and the idea was to create an instant messaging application that would run without the need for centralized servers. Like the Torrents, the system would be divided and will allow for peer-to-peer and end-to-end encryption with no feature to disable the encryption. That said the library is open source and provides all the messaging and encryption features.
Tox is available across Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and FreeBSD.
Jitsi is a Skype Alternative you may not have heard of but the program is pretty powerful in itself and offers a bouquet of features. Jitsi is built around VoIP and is optimized for better audio calls and video chats. The list of features doesn’t just end there as Jitsi can also stream and share the desktops over the internet, record the calls and instant messages.
All of the communication is end-to-end encrypted and thus will ensure a safe channel of communication. Advanced options in Jitsi includes echo cancellation and noise suppression, features that will come in handy during audio and video chats.
Yet another reason why Jitsi has figured out in the list is that it supports a bunch of clients including SIP, Facebook, MSN, Yahoo! and Bonjour.
Jitsi is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Again Rebtel is one of the fewer known Skype alternatives out of the lot and I was pretty much impressed with it despite just testing it out recently. Rebtel allows users to make free calls to other contacts who are also using the app and as an incentive to spread the word about the service Rebtel is also giving up free credits for inviting your friends.
Calls on Wi-Fi was not a problem and the quality was comparable to the one offered by Skype. That said if you are not under the shade of a Wi-Fi connection Rebtel will also allow you to call from 3G connection but according to some, this feature doesn’t work as intended. The call just hangs up and the voice is lost by the time it reaches the other party.
The next possibility is something that is exciting, Rebtel lets you call using “Local Call” which is essentially calling international numbers at local rates. Behind the scenes, the call is connected to the internet and thus one can call international number without using the Internet. You can call your friend from the middle of nowhere provided you have cellular connectivity and yes some Rebtel credit. Furthermore, the UI of this app also seems to be promising and ensures that new users are not thrown off track. Also, I loved how you could opt for an unlimited calling pack in any country, something that will come in handy during overseas travel.
Rebtel is available for Android, iOS and Windows Phone.
Wrapping it Up
It all boils down to personal preferences, yes at the end it depends on which feature you use the most and how comfortable you are with a particular Skype alternative. Rest assures that it’s not the end of the world without Skype and in fact, some of the alternatives listed above are more enticing than the Skype itself. I would promptly suggest you go through the features listed above and take your pick. Also, I would advise you to start out by buying a trial pack or limited amount of credit and only once you are satisfied with it buy more credits.