Skype is synonymous with video calls. Ever since it was bought over by software giant Microsoft, there has been a growing clamor for Skype alternatives – and it seems that this call has been heard and answered many times over. Check out different, exciting video telephony apps for the home, office, and on-the-go here. Read on to find out what their respective pros and cons are.
The freemium Discord app places a strong emphasis on community focus. Unlike a conventional instant messenger, everything in Discord revolves around groups that have been sorted out and separated based on its respective servers. Within the service or app, you are able to switch from one server to another. Numerous functions, including the video chat function, are free, and this makes Discord a decent Skype alternative for groups.
While it is less well-known commercially, Tox plays its role well. So far, only 1:1 video calls are possible. Thanks to an open-source approach, there are several compatible clients for Android, iOS, and desktop operating systems. Some clients allow group chats (partly based on IRC).
The decentralized system works peer-to-peer, i.e. without a server and thus without mass data storage. Messages are encrypted end-to-end.
Signal’s set up would be extremely familiar to WhatsApp users due to the similarities, which makes the switch particularly painless. All you need to do is download the app, register your phone number, protect chats using a PIN, and import your address book. Metadata, messages, and video chats are encrypted and not stored on the server – making this a simple and secure Skype alternative!
The paid WhatsApp alternative, Threema, is currently testing out video calls as a beta feature.
Google had long announced that it was going to stop its Messenger service. However, as long as it still works, we will list Hangouts as an alternative to Skype. This is especially so on Android smartphones, making it an obvious video chat solution as you already have a Google account. Such a degree of integration enables you to reach many of your contacts quickly. The Hangouts group video calls’ quality has been consistently impressive.
German app Wire is marketed as a collaborative platform. As such, you can use it to host a video conference with friends or colleagues, simply chat, or view each other’s screens and send files. After 30 days, however, certain features will be restricted.
Jami is a Swiss army knife when it comes to communication. Other than Web-based video calls, this free open source app also delivers SIP-based calls to the telephone network. This makes it a feature-packed alternative to the commercially-minded Skype.
In Jami, you can register as an anonymous user. It is optional to include a link to your email address or phone number, a move that ensures a high degree of privacy.
The free, open-source, and decentralized Zoom and Skype alternative Jitsi provides the highest degree of control. Other than public servers, you are also able to set it up on a private one. This can be configured quickly and in an affordable manner with a Raspberry Pi working alongside a basic Internet connection as actual video communication is done on a peer-to-peer basis.
Usage is completely anonymous; as you will never be asked for personal data.
Zoom is surprisingly user-friendly. The video service can be scaled for meetings with up to several hundred participants. However, you must first register with a valid e-mail address. It is important to use a different password each time for your meetings, because Zoom has been criticized for data leaks, among other things – which has since been patched.
Using it is simple: create a video chat room, share an invitation link, wait for the participants, and begin talking. The free version limits video calls to 40-minute sessions, although you can restart them immediately and as often as you like.
Facebook services: Messenger & WhatsApp
Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp can perform video calls. In fact, WhatsApp recently raised the limit of its video chatting to eight concurrent participants. Due to dubious privacy terms, Facebook products are only suitable for professional use to a limited extent. Private users will benefit the most because they can meet almost all their contacts via one of the popular apps.
What is your favorite video call tool? What do you use to replace or complement Skype? What other discoveries would you like to share with us that you think we might have missed? What do you consider to be the most important feature to consider when it comes to video calls? Share your experiences and suggestions in the comments section.
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