With smartphones being as popular as ever, new apps are made all the time and with this guide you can find out how to use them to call your friends for free.
When the ‘smart revolution’ began to take place sometime in 2008 when the original iPhone was released and 2009 when handset makers seemed to wise up to smartphone’s popularity, people realised that the mobile phone market would change in a big way, but not like this. They probably never realised that in the face of smartphone popularity other markets such as that of PCs, would dwindle as we began to pride portability over sheer, raw power. They probably didn’t realise that even gaming would change too as mobile gaming became a bonafide genre, as opposed to something that younger generations did on their Nintendo Game Boys and DS’. But most of all they probably didn’t realise that in the face of smartphone apps and services, we would even stop calling and texting in traditional ways as we could use apps to do that too so you can read on to find out how to use your smartphone to call your friends for free below.
Skype is everyone’s favourite voIP (voice over Internet Protocol) service because it’s been around for years and everyone trusts it. Skype has all of your basic features, such as IM (instant messaging) and voice calls that can allow you to keep in touch with your friends no matter where they are. So well does Skype do this that it saw MSN (Microsoft’s own IM service) buckle under competitive pressure with Microsoft purchasing Skype a few years later, helping the service to become bigger and better. That ‘better’ hasn’t quite happened yet, with Skype still having the propensity to drop calls every once in a while (they aren’t always of the clearest quality either) but as it’s used by more people than the rest of the apps on this list (and is therefore easier for everyone to use) then the Skype app is worth a look in.
You have to be brave to launch in direct competition with a company like Skype and you also have to be certain that what you’re offering is strong enough to last. Luckily, voIP start-up Viber has the chops to prove it, having offered text chat and call services since it was created in 2010. The Viber app is free and in some ways you do get what you paid for here as calls take a little longer to connect than they do with Skype, but once they do, the quality of the call is arguably much better than Skype and a buyout by Japanese company Rakuten for $900 million means that that’s only set to continue.
3. BlackBerry Messenger
BlackBerry as a handset may have some paltry offerings but BlackBerry Messenger as a service remains one of the strongest messaging services out there. Given that BBM was always one of the key reasons to buy a BlackBerry in the first place, you can imagine that BBM as it stands now (it’s available for iOS and Android too) is a very strong competitor due to all of the experience and knowledge behind it. The only downside to BBM is that the app is funded by ads meaning that this may mar your experience slightly but as it also boasts seamless movement from a text chat to a voice call, you might not even notice that the ads are there.
Line is the rising star of the chat app world and with good reason too. Its delightful stickers make text chat a fun experience in which you catch up with friends using silly images when serious conversation just isn’t something that you want to do. But in addition to Line’s fabulous text chatting, it also has a voice call function too, in which calls are quick to connect and are a crisper, clearer alternative to Skype. In fact, the only downside to Line’s calls is that you often find yourself initiating them accidentally due to the positioning of the call button, but the ‘Decline’ and ‘Answer’ buttons are bold enough that this isn’t a huge problem.
Kakao is another rising star (albeit a slightly dimmer one than Line) and even if you can’t pronounce what it’s called, you can still get hours of enjoyment out of it. Like Line, Kakao has a plethora of stickers that you can send to friends but Kakao boasts the additional feature of animated stickers too, meaning that you can get the full experience of a dancing animated character if you wish. Unfortunately Kakao’s calls are tiny bit fiddly to do, but the service seems to be doing well which means that it’s absolutely worth a shout.
Over 500 million users can’t be wrong about WhatsApp’s quality since they’ve all been using it to chat amongst themselves rather than paying for texts for some time now. Indeed, WhatsApp’s weight warrant an inclusion on its list even if it doesn’t technically include calls yet. Specifically, a $19 billion buyout by Facebook is set to catapult WhatsApp into huge new territory, including free voice calls. But that hasn’t happened yet despite the company saying that it would happen sometime during Q2 2014 (April, May and June) so there’s still time for them to launch the feature and once it does it’ll probably be incredible so keep an eye out for that.