Now that WhatsApp has reverted to a yearly subscription model on the iPhone, it is no longer free on any platform. So, what are the other options that we have to communicate across devices and even desktops that are still free?
iMessage and FaceTime
Well, for all iDevices, simple messaging and sharing can be done easily using iMessage. With the upcoming iOS 7, FaceTime will also be available as a voice only call besides video calling. So, while most of the current iDevice owners have no real issues of communication between other iDevice users, a choice has to be made for friends and family that are not using iOS based devices.
While WhatsApp gained popularity by virtue of being pre-installed on a huge variety of Android based phones, it is no longer free on any platform and lacks voice (VoIP) besides other features. The fact that WhatsApp is essentially a “Telephony” app, it does not support tablets or any device that does not have basic telephony capability like SMS and voice calling.
Fring is yet another option. Like WhatsApp and some others, it is a “telephony” only app. Fring, like Skype, also allows you to make phone calls globally for a charge. Fring is primarily a Skype rival with better features and quality.
Skype needs no introduction. It has been around for quite some time and is best known for it’s VoIP calls to normal phones. Skype has bounced around from company to company and is currently a Microsoft product. Skype does not support many of the features of the messaging apps mentioned here. It also retains the legacy mode of having a user ID to log into the app and add “friends” manually. This legacy mode allows Skype to support phones and tablets.
While Viber remains a multi-platform, free favourite for many, it is not as well known as WhatsApp. Like WhatsApp, Viber is also a “telephony” app and only supports devices that have basic telephony features like SMS/voice calling. Viber has all the features of WhatsApp, plus voice calling and desktop support. It also has a nifty feature of being able to transfer a voice (VoIP) call to and from a desktop to the phone. Viber is also adding video calling which would make it even more complete.
KakaoTalk is a Viber rival. It is possibly even lesser known that Viber. It also includes group voice calls.
Tango is somewhat different from all the above in the sense that it is not a “telephony” only app. It supports Tablets/iPods as well. It has all the features of the above messaging apps, plus some. The most recently added feature being “friend discovery”. It will show you a list of all Tango users around your location allowing you to discover new friends. Like the above apps, Tango has text/group messaging, voice and video calls and more.
While there are plenty of other options, these are some of the older and more stable applications around. So, which one is right for you?
The answer is simple, all of them are free, try them and use all or one that you like most. Personally, I prefer Viber for the most part, even though I have all of them installed on my iPhone.