If you are thinking of a video call, almost certainly the first one to come to mind will be Skype. The service introduced in 2003 is the most widely used application for video calling on the Internet. Whether it’s on PCs, notebooks, tablets or smartphones, you can get in touch with other Skype users virtually everywhere. For video calling you need a video camera and microphone device, free Skype software, and an Internet connection.
However, there are many other free IP telephony applications (ie, Internet telephony, also known as “VoIP”), which also allow the transmission of video between two interlocutors. Most of these alternatives to Skype are equally as free. Some are characterized by features and data protection measures that can not be traced back to the market leader. But which of these alternatives to Skype are really valid? We will illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of Skype and other 10 applications for video telephony.
Best alternatives to Skype: 9 free programs for your video calls
First of all, it should be clarified that many video chat applications are discussed as Skype with regard to privacy management. However, there are some providers in this field that focus on the security of communications content. Some services specialize in privacy, while others, due to numerous criticisms and public pressures, have been forced to change privacy data protection provisions to meet more users, including encryption techniques.
However, leaving behind the debate on data privacy, there are many alternatives that are valid to Skype, which are characterized by their useful and creative functions. All the video chat applications described below are completely free. Let us not show its merits and defects.
ezTalks Cloud Meeting
ezTalks Cloud Meeting is one of the most competitive alternative to Skype. It is also available in almost all the platforms. It is one of the world leading video conferencing solutions. You can connect with up to 99 participants over video conference for free, and connect with up to 499 participants with its paid plan.
OoVoo can do almost anything that Skype does: in addition to video and IP telephony, ooVoo lets you chat with other users, swap files, and use the pay-per-view mobile network. Video calls are possible with up to 12 accounts. According to the provider, the so-called “superclear” technology ensures optimum image and audio quality. In addition, the service offers some functions not available on Skype, such as the option to accept video calls through the application. In the desktop version you can watch YouTube videos along with your interlocutor.
The service is available on Windows for both mobile devices and desktop, macOS, Android, and iOS operating systems. Overall, ooVoo is a good alternative to Skype, since it looks like most of the features and ooVoo even adds additional features.
However, with regard to data security, the application is completely disappointed: there is no encryption of communications, a choice motivated by the provider on the website with the reason that the quality of the broadcasts would be affected. In addition, the video conference limit of 12 participants alongside the lack of desktop-sharing option loses to ooVoo the comparison with Skype. Another lack comes from its low spread. Perhaps, contrary to Skype, you must first get some contacts to use the application before you can communicate via ooVoo alternative.
The other Zoom alternative you can use is GoToMeeting alternatives. This is an all-in-one communication application for businesses that you can use on numerous platforms. It is cloud-based and can support as many as 100 participants.
Jitsi’s open source software addresses the users who are very much in the heart of the security of their conversations regarding video telephony. All calls, both with and without video, are encoded. You can also enable content encryption in chat. There is no official limit on the number of participants in a videoconference, as this depends solely on the computer’s ability and the speed of the Internet connection. Surprisingly, Jitsi does not need to subscribe to the service, but you can simply use the Jitsi Meet browser variant: the conversation opens with a click, and then a link is created with which the interlocutors can add to the conversation.
Jitsi can also be used through clients for Windows, MacOS, and Linux operating systems. On the other hand, however, there are no clients for mobile device operating systems, even if you can use the browser version even from smartphones and tablets.
In 2013, after the NSA interception scandal, an anonymous developer began working on the Tox program. Already the logo shows how much privacy is important to the service: in fact, any kind of communication within the application is secured through end-to-end encryption. This ensures that in addition to the participants in the conversation, no one else has access to the contents of communications. The IP address is only visible to the conversation partners. In addition, data transmission is not carried out through a central server, but through peer-to-peer technology, where data exchange takes place directly between the computers involved.
This should disincentive external users to gain access to conversations and data exchange. Developers understand their software as counter-design to most other chat and video telephony applications that do not provide total protection against interception, but instead collect data. In addition, attention is drawn to the fact that behind the program there is no hidden commercial interest.
Next to the usual (video) call, chat and file transfer capabilities, Tox also offers a desktop sharing option available for Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android and iOS. Contact information is exchanged with other Tox users through a special Tox identifier. Video chat is currently only available between two users; However, with the continuous growth of software, it is expected that this aspect will change soon. Due to the Tox Beta Development Stage, it is likely that errors still appear in the application; As the same creators of the software admit. Those who attach absolute importance to the security of video calling, VoIP, and chat should not be intimidated by this, because in the Tox, they offer particularly powerful and functional security measures: it is almost impossible to ask for better privacy than this.
The Yahoo messaging service is another program on this type of market, whose basic functions are similar to those of Skype: for example, the chat function operates through data transmission and there is access to the web app through the browser . Video calls can only be made between two profiles.
For the rest, Yahoo Messenger is an alternative to Skype that is absolutely adequate, with the ability to integrate with Yahoo’s email service. In addition, sent messages can be deleted, otherwise known only on Skype. Yahoo Messenger is a highly mature video chat and messaging application featuring Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS clients. However, Yahoo does not overlook the negative criticisms of privacy, which is why messaging software is not considered safe.
Skype also strongly reminds Viber’s features. The program manages VoIP with and without image transmission, as well as instant messaging and file transfer. Even if you can make paid calls, you only offer video telephony between two accounts. Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Blackberry are available.
Nonetheless, Viber has caught attention by recording an unusual amount of user data: the service has broken the EU’s privacy law. Even information about people who were not even registered at the service was saved. End-to-end encryption is offered since 2016, but fixed or mobile phone calls are excluded, which is a guarantee for content security.
Overall, Viber is a very functional application that, like other valid Skype alternatives, has few users and behaves in a dubious way about privacy.
Many do not even know that through the most popular social media chat you can make a video call to other Facebook users. This option exists both in the desktop version and in the Facebook Messenger app for Android and iOS. With the app you can make common VoIP calls with up to 50 different profiles, but video telephony is only allowed between two Facebook accounts. The huge spread of Facebook is one of the points in your favor: you will most likely already be connected with some of your friends and acquaintances, so to facilitate the action of making a (video) call. The big lacuna lies in the lack of data security, where Facebook has often been criticized: communication is not yet encrypted according to standards, although it is planned for the future.
With FaceTime Apple offers its own video chat app, exclusively for its devices, such as iPhone, iPad, and Mac. The application is very essential: in addition to Internet telephony with or without video, FaceTime alternatives does not contain any additional features. As with Facebook Messenger, Apple’s app can not make video calls with more than one contact, but you can still call up to 10 contacts in an audio conversation.
Hangouts app is generally viewed as a Google attempt to enter the instant messaging market to compete with WhatsApp. Google Hangouts is available as an app for both Android devices and iOS devices, and as web app on the browser. In all variants, you can not only chat and exchange files with other Hangouts users, but also conduct video calls with up to 10 participants. From the end of 2015 you can invite unregistered people to join a call via the browser.
Because of the services released in 2016, Google Duo and Google Allo, another instant messaging app, increase the number of promises that Google Hangouts progressively gets into the background until they are completely replaced by the two new apps. Google has said that Hangouts alternative will be more focused on business.