Skype, which is a part of Microsoft, has become one of the most popular video conferencing software in the world when it comes to connecting with others. Businesses and their clients, families and friends, and even strangers who meet online are able to utilize the service's voice, video and even texting options to connect with one another. Even schools and universities have been using the tool. It's possible to connect with computers, gaming systems, televisions, and phones. They even have group options so multiple people can all connect at the same time.
However, as attractive as the system might be, it's not the only tool out there that serves these purposes. Besides, those who have utilized Skype know quite well that it's not always as reliable as they might like. Instances of glitches and lag, and dropping connections entirely, are unfortunately common. You can find quite a few high quality, convenient alternatives out there that might work better for you than Skype, and those alternatives are the focus of this article. Not all of the options have the same features as Skype, but they should appeal to some different types of Skype users looking for a tool that performs specific tasks well.
Google is undoubtedly one of the most recognized brands in the world today, and they have a fantastic alternative to Skype that some people might prefer. It is called Google Hangouts, which is a free video chat service that can accommodate up to ten people at once. This multiple-person interaction is one of the best things about the tool. When you are speaking to a particular person, it is possible to focus on that one person, giving the impression of having "one-on-one" time with him or her. The system includes VOIP, SMS, and instant messaging and it works with three other Google services - Google+ Messenger, Google Talk, and Hangouts.
Users can access the tool through a number of different options including Gmail, Google+ sites, as well as through mobile apps that are available for both iOS and Android. One of the disappointing things about Google Hangouts is that it works on a proprietary system, meaning that it does not allow some third party applications to access it, as they were able to do with the old version of Google Talk.In order to use this tool, you will need to have a Google Plus account, which will not be a problem for users who already have an account. However, not everyone likes to use Google, and may not want to sign up for a social network just to use the service. One of the nice things about the system though is that it is free, which makes connecting with people easier and cheaper than it has ever been. Though it is free to use, Google's site does make mention that there are actually some areas of the US and Canada that will cost one cent per minute, or whatever the listed rate might be for your country. Calls to areas outside of the US are very low though, but their site also stresses that calling is not available to all locations in the world.Locations where you will not be able to call in Hangouts currently include:
United Arab Emirates
While Google Hangouts does have quite a few benefits, including the cost, it's important to consider some of the other alternatives as well to determine if anything else might work better for your particular needs.
One of the other Skype alternatives to consider is VSee, which stands for Visual See. The tool was created by a group of "human computer interaction scientists" from Stanford University. The developers pride themselves on the fact that the video quality is extremely high, even when it is going over consumer grade networks. The data that is sent through the system does not actually go through a server, but can provide great looking video over low bandwidths without clogging up the network.The system offers many features including the ability to set up a group chat with up to 20 people, which is twice the number you are able to use with Google Hangouts currently. It offers screen sharing with annotation, file sharing, private and group video chat, auxiliary camera control, and remote camera control.The basic service, which allows for secure video chat, instant messaging, file sending, and recording is entirely free, so there is no downside to trying the system. They also offer higher tiers of service, which are typically used by clinics and other medical facilities, as they are HIPAA compliant. Some of the services provided at the higher tier include unlimited screen share, mobile notification when a client arrives, client self-scheduling, and multi-camera and device streaming. These tiers currently start at $299 each month per account, not including the $500 setup and training fee.The system is created to help make it easier to connect and build trust with people. Many businesses are finding that this system works quite well for their needs thanks to the face-to-face connections and the easy file sharing system. It's possible to share work with customers and clients, and between employees. While it is a good option for some businesses, even individuals who want to connect with one another can find plenty of use from VSee.
GoToMeeting software might not have the name recognition of Skype, but as an alternative, it is growing quickly. They've been in business since 2004, and they now host an average of 56 million meetings online each year and have three million unique users each month. While many of the services that you will find are free or low cost, such as Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting charges for their service. However, the costs are relatively low and given the quality of the technology and features in the service, it could be well worth considering for many businesses.Currently, you can find three different levels or tiers from which you can choose. The Starter package, which is best for smaller meetings and teams, starts at $24 per organizer per month. This is billed annually. It offers meetings with up to five attendees, a personal meeting room, screen sharing, HD video, VOIP and phone audio, a toll-free option, live support around the clock, and support for mobile apps. The Pro plan, at $39 per month, has all of the same features as the Starter plan, with the only difference being that you can have up to 25 attendees. Those who have greater needs can choose the Plus plan. This is $49 per month, but you can have up to 100 attendees in the meeting.While GoToMeeting does charge customers for their service, they also offer a 30-day free trial so you can give it a test run. Whenever you are considering any type of service, if they offer a free trial, it is always a good idea to try it out before spending any money. It gives you the time you need to determine whether it has all of the features you need, whether it is user-friendly, and whether you will use it enough to make it worth the money. The trial they are offering only requires your email address, so you do not have to supply them with your credit card number.
WebEx is extremely popular and highly trusted, as it comes from Cisco. Each month, they have more than 51 million people using their service, making it a top leader in video communication. Like GoToMeeting, they have three different options that should fit most different sized companies.Currently, the price for their Premium 8 service is $24 per month or $19 per month if the user opts for annual billing. This plan can accommodate up to eight people. It is $49 per month for their Premium 25 plan, or $39 a month for annual billing. The plan can accommodate up to 25 people. Their largest plan, the Premium 100 can work with up to 100 people. It costs $69 per month currently, or $49 per months for the annual plan.In addition, they do have a free version, but it does not include all of the same options and features as their paid version. The free plan will work with up to three people and it will have a single host license. You can use VOIP audio connection, share desktop, whiteboard, and documents, and have 250 MB of storage. This version comes with standard quality video.Features you will get with all of the Premium versions include full-screen video conferencing, or split screen, easy sharing of applications, free mobile apps, shared presenter roles, markup tools, phone call-in and VOIP, and the ability to record the meetings. You can record both the video meetings and audio meetings alike. You can schedule meetings in Outlook, add password protection for the meetings, and enjoy support 24x7. It can work with PC, Mac, and Linux.The system has become popular for a number of reasons. It is reliable and it has the Cisco brand backing it up. The features are always improving and expanding, and the system is extremely easy to set up and use, even for those who have little to no understanding of web communications. Companies of all sizes are increasingly choosing to go to WebEx.
If you are looking for a Skype alternative for their audio that will help you make easier and cheaper international calls, then Voca could be a great fit. If both the caller and the receiver have Voca installed on their device, the calls will actually be free. This is an app that you can put on your smartphone for making calls and for sending messages. It will work on both smartphones and tablets.If the user is making calls to those who are not a part of the Voca network, they will still enjoy the benefit of having a cheap call to more than 230 countries around the world. The calls are extremely clear and reliable, and it is very easy to use. When you are making calls to other countries, you will need to purchase Voca credits through their site. Currently, they allow you to choose from three different amounts based on your currency.For example, someone in the United States can choose $10, $25, and $40, which the system will then use whenever they make calls to those who don’t use Voca. There is no subscription to using the system, so there is no need to provide a credit card number unless you are buying the credits. You can also purchase them using PayPal.The system encrypts all of the calls, texts, and attachments that are Voca-to-Voca, and they have a "handover" feature that will go between WiFi and mobile networks, which will stop instances of dropped calls.Keep in mind that this service is for audio only, and it may not apply to everyone who uses Skype for video calls and meetings. Rather, this service can be beneficial to those who have family and friends in other countries, as well as those who are doing business with clients and customers from other countries.
This system started out as a mobile app only, and was used for making voice calls and texting. However, it is currently available on Mac and PC as well. Currently, they have more than 200 million users around the world. You do not have to register with Viber, but to make calls both of the parties will need to have the app installed on their computer or phone, or it will cost, similar to how Voca works. When making the phone calls, you will go through the app rather than through your phone's contact list. It is possible to make calls to people all around the world with this app, and the call quality is always extremely high. However, when you are making calls to other countries and the other person does not have Viber, you will pay a fee, which varies based on their location.When you are using Viber, you will be able to send text messages, make phone calls, share your location, and send photo messages. However, it is important to know that this service does not have a typical video call setup. According to their site, to make a video call, you will need to start an audio call first. Then, you will be able to choose a video option after both parties are connected. One of the nice things about the system is that it will integrate with the contact list you already have, so you will not have to input all of those numbers again.
This has quite a few similarities to Skype. However, it is only available to those who are on a Mac or who have iOS phones and tablets. The system is entirely free to use, but in addition to having an Apple product, you will need to have a WiFi connection as well as an Apple ID.As with many products from Apple, this application works very simply and intuitively. You will not need to set up any special account to get started. All you will need to do is find a person in your contact list you want to video chat with and then click the FaceTime button. You could also have Siri handle it for you if you prefer. Even if you are already in the middle of a call with someone, you can hit the button to get started with FaceTime. This will send an invitation to the other person, and they will be able to chat face to virtual face. It will work in portrait and landscape, and it can work across different Apple devices.Of course, since this is an Apple only tool, it means the other person you are speaking with will need to have an Apple device as well, naturally. You will be able to use both of the cameras on your devices for the call as well, and you can switch between the cameras with a simple tap. It's a simple feature, but it can be fun to use.While this can certainly be a handy tool to use, keep in mind that it does not have the same robust features as many of the other options available. The tool is for two-way video communication between people. However, they recently added "Facetime Audio", which will allow for conference calls and screen sharing. Though it doesn't have as many features, it can still be a great way to communicate that is simple and free.Something to keep in mind with this and other Apple products is that the company tends to keep supporting and adding onto them. Though it might not have a way to make conference calls with dozens of people right now, something along those lines could come in the future.
This strangely named application that has been growing in popularity, particularly with the younger generation. Their website claims that 65% of the users are under 25 years old, and they are using it for a variety of different social activities. It is now the largest independent video chat app and messaging app in the world, having more than 100 million users.The system allows for up to 12 people to video chat at the same time, and it works with people all around the world. It will work on any type of device that you might have including Mac, PC, Windows Phone, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire Phone, and tablets. It allows people to text, send video messages, and more. The PC version even allows users to watch YouTube videos together. The PC version allows oovoo users to record their conversation.The app offers high quality, clear picture and sound, and it is a very reliable system. Those who have been using Skype to communicate with their friends may find that this system offers them more. While it is not generally considered an app for businesses, the simple to use features and the ability to communicate with up to 12 people at once could actually make this a good option for small companies and teams.One thing to know about the app is that the free version is supported by ads. The advertisements might not be ideal for some users, and they may want to upgrade to the Premium version. This costs $2.99 per month or $29.99 per year. In addition to getting rid of the advertisements, Premium has some other benefits including compatibility with the desktop and mobile versions, priority support, and 1,000 minutes of cloud storage. For those who only use oovoo on their mobile devices, they have a Premium Mobile version, which only costs $0.99 per year.Those who are considering this application should download and use the free version first to see whether they like how the system works. Then, they can consider upgrading later if they like the way it works and want those aforementioned benefits.
What's Right for You?
As you can see, you have quite a few different options when it comes to all of the different Skype alternatives out. Some may be more suited for businesses, and others might be a better option for personal use. For the most part, they are low-cost applications and sites that help to make it easier to communicate with friends, family, employees and co-workers, and more. When you are choosing an alternative to Skype, take the time to further explore all of the features and options a system offers, and then determine which ones will work the best for your needs.