Skype has revolutionised the way we communicate with friends.
For more than 100 years phone calls have allowed us to hear one another’s voices when far apart, but now Skype has let us see each other face to face from the opposite side of the world.
On top of that’ it’s let us do it completely free.
But Skype isn’t the only software that can do this. If you want to experiment with other software, here are seven of the most popular alternatives.
QQ is made by Chinese company Tencent. It is the most popular messaging software within China and has been rolled out internationally in a number of languages. It offers a full range of features including group calls.
As well as voice and video chat, it offers shopping, games, and blogging. It works on both Windows and Mac OS as well as mobile and tablet platforms. There is also a Linux release, but this is much more limited than other versions.
Google offer stiff competition in all areas, though they have split this between three different packages. However, each package benefits from being specialised and offers functionality often superior to Skype itself, so the three together make a very compelling alternative.
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Google Hangouts covers video chat, which is high-quality and can include a number of participants. Google Voice covers voice chat and Google Talk covers instant messaging.
Pidgin is a free, open-source messaging service popular with Linux users. Like most open-source software, it is constantly evolving and benefits from many developers’ input. It can even communicate with Skype users via an optional plugin.
Empathy is another open-source piece of messaging software popular with Linux users, and comes packaged with the most popular Linux variant Ubuntu.
Unlike Pidgin, however, it is only available on Linux platforms. However, for those who do have a Linux-based OS installed it is definitely worthwhile, as it offers a full range of features and smooth running to easily rival its competitors.
ooVoo has much more going for it than an inventive and catchy name. It is a fully-featured video messaging package which allows for conversations between up to 12 people at a time. Video conversations can also be recorded and uploaded directly to Youtube.
VSee is a very unusual video messaging platform. It complies to HIPAA, a US federal law governing medical confidentiality. This means that private medical matters can safely be tackled over VSee. Even setting aside this interesting and rather novel aspect, it is a useful and fully-featured software package.
UberConference allows for video conference calls with a number of different people at a time. Smooth, high-quality video is joined by a range of useful and interesting features.
One of the more unique aspects is that you can embed social networking profiles within calls, such as Twitter or LinkedIn. Altogether, it is a fully-featured Skype alternative you won’t regret installing.