We use Skype on a daily basis but of late that's starting to become an arduous task. To call Skype glitchy would be an understatement. Even since Microsoft has taken the helm the number of changes haven't been huge and we still have issues with video calls, messaging synching across devices and international use.
So we've been looking into the alternatives out there for those that want to try something other than Skype. There are a few stand-out examples that offer all the instant messaging and video chat options of Skype. We're not saying they're all going to be perfect in comparison to Skype, but some do have genuine advantages over Microsoft's platform.
Tox is the internet's answer to Skype's relatively open platform. With the lack of privacy the internet appears to offer these days Tox claims to offer total control over your conversations, using encryption.
Despite being free and easy to use Tox is all about encryption first so it is secure. But it still offers everything you'd expect from a messenger including profile photos, file sharing, emoticons, phone calls and video calling.
Unlike Skype calling this is Tox to Tox only, but then there's no chance you'll be charged for a call so this could be considered a good thing. Especially when you know you're not being watched by anyone who wasn't invited.
Slack is a little different to the competition as it's more of an open platform. It works as a central place for communication that pulls in third-party apps to make it work.
So on Slack the chat part is built-in but file sharing can be done via Google Drive or Dropbox. Real-time web analytics can be shared and viewed using GoSquared or DataDog. For video and verbal interacting there's Google Hangouts or Intercom. The list goes on and on.
Another great feature of Slack is its ability to search entire conversations for certain words so finding what's been talked about is easy. The app is iOS and Android friendly and autocompletes friends' names making tagging them simple.
Viber is a comprehensive alternative to Skype. It was primarily a VoIP service allowing for calling directly between devices. It now also allows for WhatsApp style chat and can even be used to share files.
One of the great things about Viber is how widely available it is across platforms including Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Windows 8, Mac and more. That means video calling across devices or chatting using IM with emoticons should be seamless and simple.
Plus it's all free and works over 3G as well as Wi-Fi connections.
Coming from China WeChat is being hailed as the one-stop shop alternative to most social media apps. It's like combining text, Skype, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram into one app.
WeChat allows users to share photos and videos directly with other users or they can be posted to their profile, like the Facebook wall. Another feature, called Shake, allows users to find others nearby to chat locally. Drift Bottle is another cool feature that lets you send a message to "float" until someone finds it.
WeChat also allows voice chat, group chat, video chat and emoticon sharing. And it's all free to download.
Not only is ICQ still going, as one of the original messaging platforms, but it's also had a major overhaul.
ICQ now not only offers written chat messaging, across computers and mobiles, but also delivers voice calls as well as video calls. It works on Android, iPhone, Windows Phone, Symbian and even Java.
ICQ is free to download and calling is free internationally too.