Whether you’re just keeping in touch with friends and family or holding an important business meeting where one or all participants are located remotely, video conferencing is an indispensable tool. Being able to communicate face-to-face over the internet increases the effectiveness of communication, making conversations flow more naturally and giving people a better idea of who they’re speaking with and a better opportunity to express themselves accurately.
While many video call and conference tools are available these days, many people and businesses are still relying on Microsoft’s application Skype, a free service that can be used to make calls anywhere in the world. What these users may not realize is that while Skype seemingly meets all of their needs, there are other video call and conferencing applications available these days that are great alternatives to Skype and maybe even more effective for their organization, whether because they offer better security, a heightened level of sharing ability, or greater reliability.
Each VoIP app has its own level of functionality and complexity, with different premium features available through different platforms — and many of them better than Skype. Even so, all of these alternatives to Skype perform at least the basic function of being able to connect users to video calls made using the internet. Here’s a look at several Skype alternatives worth considering if you’re looking to change things up with a Skype replacement.
This hugely popular alternative to Skype works across platforms and offers VoIP services including text messaging, voice calls, video calls, along with the ability to share location information, images, documents, and other media. WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, and this Skype replacement offers end-to-end encryption to secure messages against outside listeners — even against WhatsApp itself, or so the claim goes.
A business app available from WhatsApp, called WhatsApp Business, allows small business owners to interact with customers and to automate, sort, and quickly respond to incoming messages, with all of those features guaranteeing it to be better than Skype for most if not all business purposes.
Available on iOS, Android, and online, Google Hangouts is a free platform and alternative to Skype that allows users to hold text chat and video conversations with up to 10 people. It also supports free VoIP calls for users located in the United States or Canada; people living outside these places can still place calls for a fee.
Another feature of Google Hangouts is its ability to broadcast live hangouts or save them to be uploaded later. Though there is an app available, Google Hangouts doesn’t require users to download an app or software to run it; it’s supported in-browser via a Google Plus or Gmail account, making it a great alternative to Skype for users who want to keep things simple.
Video conferences of up to 10 people are supported through the free version of this web conferencing platform and alternative to Skype, with a paid version allowing for even more participants. Users can leap into a conversation without needing to create an account; all they need is an invitation with a link to join the call. This is one of those programs like Skype that is available on both mobile and desktop platforms.
With an app for just about device, browser or platform — Android, iOS, Windows and Web are all supported — ooVoo is ready to roll for almost everyone. It allows more users in its free iteration than many competitors, with 12 different windows allowed at a time, and with the ability to add 6 more users for a fee. Also, ooVoo is allowing screen sharing, making it easier to connect and find solutions for work-related problems. When two contacts use ooVoo for their messaging, they have the option of recording and sending video or text messages to each other. Because of its plethora of features, ooVoo is a service that’s definitely better than Skype and many Skype alternatives.
A free account through Zoom can support up to 50 participants — that’s right, 50 — but limits group meetings to 40 minutes. Its interface is more sophisticated than that of many programs like Skype or Google Hangouts, and it has apps available for download to allow it to run all major platforms.
Not only can you share your screen on this video conferencing platform, but you can also grant others remote access to your own computer. Available on all main mobile operating systems and desktop platforms, TeamViewer is one of those alternatives to Skype that is little more complicated than other VoIP tools, but as shown by its remote screen capabilities, it also offers more to its users than do some of the other Skype alternatives.
There’s nothing to download to get going with Appear.in, one of the alternatives to Skype that lets anyone join a call without downloading the app or signing up. There is, however, an Appear.in app available for iOS users who want to take their video or text chats on the go.
Starting a call is as easy as visiting the website or launching the app and creating a new meeting known as a Room, then sending the link that is generated to whoever the Room organization wants to invite to join the conversation. As with some other programs like Skype, Appear.in call participants are added through their own internet browsers, and security options such as setting the Room to private are available if a (free) account is established and used to make the room.
Viber’s app allows its users to call or text friends and family who also have the app, all at no charge. A video call can allow up to 40 participants, and Viber can also be used to send other forms of media via the app: video messages, images, text, documents, and more. Viber has an increased focus on security compared to some of the other Skype alternatives, with all of its messages encrypted before being sent.
Viber also has an element of fun not seen in most alternatives to Skype — it offers several games for users to play online with friends, and it hosts public chat rooms where anyone can join the discussion.
Another major use of Viber is its capacity for making international calls; no roaming charges apply to calls made through Viber.