So you have an iPhone 4, you were swooned by the advertising geniuses at Apple. You saw all those commercials showing the stereotypical families talking from across the world using their fancy iPhone 4’s; you wanted that, and now you do. But, you did see the restrictions at the bottom of the screen; how FaceTime is WiFi-only, how it only works with other Apple devices, and how it’s a guessing game as to whether your friends are available or not. Now your mad, you’re thinking of returning your iPhone 4. DON’T! I have three fantastical alternatives to Apple’s voice calling service that’ll fix all of those problems!
Skype has existed far longer than Apple’s FaceTime, but until a few months ago, it didn’t have a mobile strategy. Even though it took Skype a while to develop it’s mobile app, it was definitely worth the wait. Skype’s app allows you to video chat over 3G, with anyone using the Skype application on their PC, Mac, iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, or any other device that is compatible with Skype’s app. But, just a note, video quality degrades heavily when using a mobile 3G connection; but all in all, that’s really the only short-coming of this app. The Skype iOS app is very well built and beats FaceTime in its ease of use. My favorite feature was that not only is it a FaceTime alternative, but a phone alternative too.
Fring has been around on iOS far longer than Skype, and originally used Skype’s own infrastructure for its video calling, but after a minor conflict, Skype revoked that privilege. Now, Fring has its own service, and its pretty great. Fring, like its other video-calling brethren, can be used over 3G along with WiFi. The same problem of video degradation occurs when using 3G. Unlike Skype though, this app is mostly an IM app with a video feature. That’s a problem because Fring can only make video calls with other Fring app users. Overall, the app isn’t the easiest to use, but it still is simple compared to most desktop video applications.
Vtok is a small little app that does something that no other iOS video-messaging app does….video chat with Google Talk. Surprisingly, this is the only app that actually does this, and for the most part, does it well. I’ve only had a few minor problems getting the app to connect to Gtalk, but its very random and it only occurs while on 3G and my laptop was on WiFi. When both are on 3G, it’s fine, and when both are on WiFi, it’s fine; it’s possible this could be just my connection at my house, but it has gotten somewhat annoying. Other than that, the app does what it was built to do fine, and unless you can find a Google Talk compatible alternative, its actually not that bad.
Tango is another small app that offers very little interface but is still indeed an alternative to FaceTime. Tango is basically a mix between Gtok, and Fring. Offering a small-sized app with the ability to video chat, but only with users of that app. Fortunately, Tango is a multiple platform app that has both an iOS and Android app, allowing you to video chat with all or most of your friends over WiFi or 3G.
5. Yahoo! Messanger:
Yahoo! Messanger is last, but definitely not least in our list of alternatives. Yahoo! Messenger is a very feature-rich app that is equal only to that of the Skype app. The app allows you to call anyone with an IM app that supports a web-cam, can make calls to cell-phones and landline phones, and can even text message! The app is definitely a perfect alternative to FaceTime and is probably one of the best on this list.
So if you really hate Apple’s FaceTime voice calling, here are 5 perfect alternatives that won’t cost you a dime, and are in some cases better than the built in video-calling app, so get out there and start downloading!