Not every messenger is created equal. With several major VOIP options to choose from, each tries to distinguish itself in a way that can vary user experience drastically.
Perhaps you’re a mobile user that wants to incorporate SMS into your messenger or someone who works cross-platform and wants to consolidate all messaging into a single client.
Regardless, the choice is simple to make when you compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses of each client.
If you’ve browsed around the Google Play store at all, odds are you’ve already seen Viber and its user base of over 50 million. Available for Android and iOS device, accessibility has played no small part in Viber’s popularity. At its core Viber is all about IM style chats with phone calls through your own provider, but there are also many of the same extras that former Skype users have come to expect. This includes features like group chat and favorite lists. There are a few restrictions, including a 15 person group chat limit, but they shouldn’t be too burdensome for anyone who wants free HD voice calling on their mobile device.
With Tango you can make free voice calls and video calls from any device with an Internet connection. Much like Skype, you can also record and mail video messages to anyone on your contact list. While the video quality is generally considered to be worse than Skype, Tango does offer a client that runs smoothly from window to window and has reliable connections that help guarantee no hang-ups.
One reason ooVoo has become so popular is its early availability on both Android devices and desktop computers, allowing users from either to chat cross-platform. In many respects, ooVoo is an alternative to Tango. Initially designed for Android devices, Tango supports 12-way high definition video and voice calls. And while ooVoo does have a reputation for decreased video quality in large group chats, much like Nimbuzz, you can use ooVoo to make cheap international calls.
Nimbuzz may not be a household name, but has gathered more than 50 million users worldwide. Rather than using your own provider, Nimbuzz can let you make calls for a few cents a minute on your smartphone. While you won’t get SMS or MMS delivery with Nimbuzz, you can enjoy unlimited group chat, Facebook contact integration, and of course status feed options. You can also use the Nimbuzz Out app to save up to 95% on your international calls with pay as you call mobile lines.
At the heart of Nimbuzz’s success is its seamless integration with MSN messenger, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger, ICQ, and several other major VOIP services. Similarly, it’s available For Windows, Android, Blackberry, and iOS devices. So while Nimbuzz may not be the most popular name on this list, it does allow you to connect to the largest networks on the planet.
One of the longest running competitors to Skype, the main draw of Fring is that it allows you to call other Fring users for free. Of course Fring also offers the same IM-style chats, video calls, and group chat that Skype does, but unlike Viber and Nimbuzz, you won’t find SMS or MMS delivery on board.
What you will find is free group video that rivals Skype’s quality, including 4-way video calls. You’ll also find unlimited worldwide free Fring calls, as well as access to fringOut for cheap international calls. Apart from call forwarding and file sharing, Fring has everything one wants from an alternative to Skype.
Hardly requiring an introduction at all, Skype is one of the most popular messaging clients in the world with over half a billion users. And there’s no mystery as to why. With free video calls, SMS delivery, and group chat with a massive 300 user limit, Skype offers for free what other messengers have to sell. And Skype’s premium services are equally impressive. You can also get free international calls through Skype when you use Microsoft’s subscription service. Skype is just as flexible when it comes to payment, accepting everything from major cards and Maestro to pay safe cards.
Skype is also incredibly robust as far as IM clients go, including all of the core features of modern messengers like status settings, file transfer, and chat history. Unfortunately you won’t find much of a custom chat area or any special sharing features beyond file transfer, but on the plus side, Skype is supported on virtually every device imaginable. This includes Skype-ready televisions and telephones.