When considering which app to choose for video chatting the two most important things to take into consideration are: compatibility and cost. It cannot be overstated that regardless of which video chatting app you use, you want to be able to use it with more than just people who have the same type of phone as you. (If you have an iPhone 5s and you can’t talk to someone with a Samsung S4, what’s the point?) Secondly, as many features as possible should be free or cost relatively little to use.
With these considerations in mind, the massive video chat app playing field has been leveled to two possible contenders: Skype and Viber. I did consider including Google’s Hangouts app, but decided against it, because the app is only supported with some iPhones and android devices. This is due to the fact that the app uses proprietary protocol (even some phones that supported GoogleTalk do not support Hangouts). Also, Google Hangouts was only released last May and it’s too soon to say how popular or widespread this app will be.
Skype is one of the oldest video chat options as it was initially released in 2003 and is used by 300 million people worldwide.
- Compatible with: PCs, Macs, WindowsPhone, iPhones, Androids, BlackBerrys, old school Symbian cellphones, PSPs, XBox Ones and Linux-based devices
- Supports 38 languages
- Good sound quality
- Calling landlines or other cellphones is pretty cheap (2.3 cents per minute or $2.99 per month in Canada)
- Interface is relatively easy to use
- You can sign up with a Microsoft account, Facebook or by entering your info
- Group text chat and group audio chat options
- You can leave video messages for offline users
- Not easy to transfer a call from one device to another
- You must register an account
- App lacks some features of the desktop version like file sharing
- You can’t search your contacts list
Visit the Skype website to learn more and download a copy to try out.
Viber was founded in 2010 and has approximately 200 million users worldwide.
- Compatible with: PCs, Macs, Androids, WindowsPhone, iPhones, BlackBerrys, Linux-based devices and Viber Out feature now allows you to call landlines and other mobiles
- Supports use in 30 languages
- It’s free to call and text other Viber users
- Easy to transfer calls from one device to another
- It’s relatively easy to use
- Picture and text messaging are also supported
- You can also share your location
- Requires your real phone number (which all your contacts will be able to see)
- To get the most out of this app you need an iPhone, android or WindowsPhone 8 (features are lacking for BlackBerrys, older Nokia phones and limited features on computers of all types, video chatting not supported at all for BlackBerry version of the app)
- No call blocking option
- Experience varies widely depending on the type of phone you have
Visit the Viber website to learn which features are supported on your device and download the app.
Bottom Line: Ultimately, your app of choice for video chatting depends on what your friends and colleagues use and what features you need, but of the two, Skype is the more universal option.