Skype was one of the first video calling software’s that appeared on the scene in noughties. It was dressed up as the more serious/business-like MSN messenger which allowed users around the world to have conservations with one and other via a video link.
Skype has certainly stood the test of time and came in incredibly handy for many of us during the Coronavirus pandemic when the best way to keep in touch with friends and family was via video link. That doesn’t mean to say that Skype is still the best platform out there, though, as there are now plenty of alternatives which we have probably all rattled through over the past two years.
In this article, we are going to look at the best Skype alternatives out there and tell you a little bit about each one. By the end of this article, you may well hang up Skype for good or come to the conclusion that it is still the video calling app for you. It’s all personal preference! Anyway, let’s get into it.
Apps like Skype – The top three
It’s impossible to start the conversation about Skype alternatives without talking about the app that we have all lived on for the past two years during the Coronavirus pandemic. It may come as a surprise to you that Zoom was actually launched in 2011, enjoying mild success before it’s rapid rise to prominence nearly a decade later.
That platform is similar to Skype in the sense that it is a system that you can use to video call people from all around the world. While it is mainly used by businesses for remote working purposes, where employees can conduct meetings from their kitchen, it can actually be used for social purposes too – who could forget all those Zoom quizzes during the first lockdown?
Downloading and using Zoom is easy enough. Once you’ve signed up to an account and logged in, the options available to you include being able to join current meetings, schedule future meetings or start a new meeting. To join an existing meeting you are going to need a zoom code, which the meeting organiser should send you.
Whereas, to schedule or start a new meeting you will need to send out the generated zoom link code to participants. Zoom will automatically generate this code and give it to you when you set the meeting up. For an extra layer of security, users are able to set a password which participants will need to enter once they’ve joined.
One cool feature of Zoom, which has come in incredibly handy for all businesses, is the share your screen button. This does exactly what it says on the tin – shares your computer screen with all meeting participants. This is perfect if you are demonstrating something to people in a meeting or simply if you want everyone to be looking at the same excel spreadsheet or word document, for example.
Microsoft Teams is another Skype alternative that businesses have started to utilise over the past couple of years due to the rapid rise in remote working. In a similar way to Zoom, businesses use Microsoft Teams as a way to conduct meetings while employees work from home. This means that even while some employees may be back in the office, they can still have meetings with those who aren’t.
To sign up to Microsoft Teams, all you need is a Microsoft Outlook account. If you don’t already have one, then it is free to sign up to and will give you access to the platform. Once you’ve signed up and logged in to Teams, you will realise that it is so much more than just a video calling platform. It reaches new heights that Zoom and Skype simply do not.
We could talk about a whole host of unique features, but the one that stands out the most to me is the planner section of Teams. This is a fantastic feature for businesses and one that should be used regardless of whether your team is working remotely or not.
The planner section is an area for everyone in your team to enter in what they are working on and mark it either as ‘in progress’, ‘completed’ or ‘on hold’. It’s just a great way to keep track of everyone’s hard work and for managers, it’s a great way to prevent overworking anyone.
In terms of the video calling side of teams, you can call anyone in your organisation, or anyone whose email address you have, instantly by selecting their name and clicking the call or video call button on the upper right hand side of the screen. You can also organise meetings by selecting the calendar button on the side menu bar and clicking the ‘new meeting’ button.
While the first two apps we’ve discussed in this article are business focused, Facetime sits on the opposite end of the video calling spectrum. Facetime is an app that focuses more on the social aspect of video calling, with friends being able to call each other at any time just like a standard voice call. In order to use Facetime, at least one of the participants on the call will need to be on an iOS device.
To make a call on Facetime, you will need to head to the app and select ‘new facetime’ and then select from your list of contacts. In order to connect the call successfully both you and the person you’re ringing will need to have a secure internet connection.
One cool feature of facetime are the filters which you can add in once you’re on a call. To do this you need to press the icon on the bottom left hand side of the call. The filters available to users include adding text to the screen, adding humorous overlays to each others faces and adding emoji stickers for certain reactions.
Whether you use Skype for business or social purposes, there are alternatives out there which you may well prefer. The three apps we’ve discussed today are all free and all have their own individual merits. Give them a go and see what you think.