Skype is a free calling app that enables video and voice chat as well as instant messaging. It’s very easy to use and has an intuitive interface. Most users are familiar with video calling and messaging apps, but Skype runs on a powerful server that helps maintain a stable connection. You can use it for free via WiFi, or sign up for a calling plan where you can contact other mobile numbers.
What is Skype?
Skype is a fantastic tool that lets you connect with people globally. It kicked off in 2003 and has come a long way. A group of smart folks from different places teamed up to create this virtual space for conversations with friends and family, no matter where they are.
Over time, Skype has grown and made some impressive partnerships, like with eBay and Comcast. It's not just for computers; you can even use it on your TV. Exciting features like free video messaging and the ability to send money through PayPal while chatting have been added, making it a versatile platform.
By 2019, Skype had become one of the most downloaded apps of the decade, showcasing its popularity.
Skype packs in a bunch of cool features:
- Video Calls: Connect with up to 49 people in a single video call. It's like hosting a virtual get-together!
- Chat: Send instant messages, mention someone for their attention, or create group chats for easy planning.
- Bing in Skype: Think of it as a smart assistant in your chat, offering answers and suggestions to make your conversations more engaging.
- Share: Share photos and videos, save them to your device, or showcase your screen when making plans with friends.
- Voice Calls: If video isn't your thing, make voice calls to anyone worldwide at a reasonable cost.
- Express Yourself: Spice up your chats with emojis, GIFs, stickers, and images.
- SMS: Send text messages to phones worldwide using Skype.
Always stay in touch
Skype was one of the very first pieces of software that allowed video calling in addition to phone calls. The same coding formula has since been improved and applied to modern apps. The compact design makes it convenient and appealing. Anyone with a few computer skills can familiarize themselves with Skype in no time. You can also sign up with your Google or Facebook account, which is always a plus. Since it’s now owned by Microsoft, you’ll also be able to tie your Skype login name to your Microsoft account, making it easier to access on any device.
The general structure of Skype is very much similar to any other mainstream messaging apps like Whatsapp or Viber. Even Facebook’s Messenger has the same layout in terms of emojis, reactions, and notifications. Skype offers many of the same features with a touch of its own. For example, you can invite anyone to join your call. Add credits to your account to text and call other mobile numbers. The list goes on.
Text and call
There are a lot of features on Skype most users aren’t aware of due to them being more of a bonus than a necessity. One of them is that you can host a conference call and invite anyone using the Meet Now button. The people you invite don’t need to have Skype. Simply send them the link to your conversation, and they can talk to you on their browser. This is a pretty awesome feature as it doesn’t require installation but at the same time entices people to try the app. If you need to have a meeting on the go, you can do it from your Android or iOS device using the app.
All texts and calls are free as long as all connected parties are on Skype. If you wish to make calls to a landline or mobile phone, you can do that by adding credits to your account. The rate per minute is generally high for this kind of service, but Skype does offer a lot of bundles and monthly plans. You can also send text messages using the same method.
The layout is easy to navigate. The left-hand side shows you all of your recent conversations and active friends. The color palette of the program is easy on the eyes and draws a clear separation between sections.
Users are given the option of both Light and Dark Mode. You can also change the “theme color”, which changes the accent color applied to buttons and selected items.
The options menu itself has a lot in it. You can adjust emoji sizes in messages, test your mic, speakers, and camera, and adjust settings for making and receiving calls. You can even add Skype credits here for making phone calls.
Most interface features, including reactions, emojis, and stickers, can be found on popular platforms such as Messenger and Whatsapp. However, these features come in a more creative form on Skype. You’ll like the lively emojis that never stop expressing themselves. The collection of reactions is also much larger than any other apps. One thing you may find lacking is the definition of these artworks.
Skype allows voice and video messages. These features are somewhat similar to the Google Duo, except you don’t have augmented reality images. You can also share files directly to your friends via the chatbox.
One of the reasons Skype has not been gaining more popularity is due to its poor performance. While you still receive timely notifications, the app itself is super slow. The loading time for your conversations and transitioning between calls do not meet the standard set by leading software. Calling quality is fine, but there are few volume controls when screen-sharing.
Skype offers conference calling and group chats. It also contains a screen-share feature, which is useful for companies with multiple offices, where in-person presentation isn’t an option. Considering the slow performance even for one-on-one conversations, group calling is not preferred. The weird thing is that it has nothing to do with your computer RAM or bandwidth, the app is genuinely sluggish. Compared to Zoom, which specializes in video chat, Slype is falling behind. When paired against the likes of Discord, whose sole design is gathering users, it’s almost embarrassing.
How do I use Skype?
Using Skype is a breeze:
- Download Skype on your device.
- Create a free account.
- Sign in.
Talking to other Skype users is free, but if you want to call their phones, there might be a small fee.
To make a call:
- Find the person in your contacts.
- Press the audio or video call button.
- For group calls, add more people or press the start call button.
- End the call when you're done.
Is Skype still available for personal use?
Absolutely, Skype is still available for personal use. For businesses, there's a different version called Skype for Business, designed for use with an Office 365 account.
Is Skype a free platform?
Yes, chatting with other Skype users is free. But if you want additional features like voicemail, texts, or calling phones outside of Skype, there might be a small cost.
Best Skype alternatives
In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, several alternatives offer robust features comparable to Skype. Here are two noteworthy alternatives that have gained popularity:
Zoom: A versatile communication hub
Zoom Meetings has emerged as a versatile communication tool, facilitating effortless video and audio calls. This application, compatible with Windows, boasts a myriad of features that cater to a diverse user base. Some highlights include:
- Recording Meetings: Capture important discussions for future reference.
- Virtual Backgrounds: Customize your backdrop with images, enhancing the visual appeal.
- Screen Sharing: Share your desktop, fostering collaborative work environments.
- Desktop Annotations: Mark up screen content, adding an interactive element to presentations.
- Whiteboard Feature: Ideal for brainstorming and collaborative note-taking.
The ease of use, coupled with innovative features, positions Zoom Meetings as a compelling alternative to Skype. Its widespread popularity is a testament to its effectiveness in various communication scenarios.
Discord: Uniting communities beyond gaming
Originally designed for gamers, Discord Messenger has evolved into a communication platform for diverse communities. Some key features include:
- Text and Voice Channels: Engage in communication through text or voice, fostering a sense of community.
- Custom Servers: Create distinct servers for different groups, ensuring tailored interactions.
- Voice Chat Controls: Manage voice channels effectively by limiting participants and adjusting individual volumes.
- Background Operation: Run Discord in the background while gaming, ensuring uninterrupted communication.
Available across multiple platforms, including Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS, Discord Messenger's widespread usage extends beyond gaming circles, making it a versatile alternative to Skype.
Is Skype for Business different from Skype?
Skype for Business, designed with a corporate focus, presents distinctive features compared to its consumer-oriented counterpart. Understanding these differences is crucial for businesses seeking enhanced communication tools.
Administrator role with authorization levels
Skype for Business introduces an administrator role with multiple authorization levels, providing control over functionalities. This allows businesses to tailor access according to their specific needs. Notable capabilities include:
- International Calling: Administrators can grant international calling privileges, a feature not available in basic Skype.
- Call Recording Control: The admin retains authority over call recording, facilitating role-playing scenarios and ensuring privacy.
More participants in conference calls and meetings
Skype for Business addresses the limitations of standard Skype by accommodating up to 250 participants in meetings, compared to Skype's 25-person cap. This scalability proves advantageous for webinars and large-scale presentations. Additionally:
- Universal Meeting Access: Participants not on Skype for Business can seamlessly join meetings from any device with a single click.
In conclusion, while Skype remains a powerful tool for individual users, Skype for Business emerges as a tailored solution for enterprises, offering advanced administrative controls and accommodating larger audiences in virtual meetings. As technology continues to evolve, these alternatives and variations cater to diverse communication needs, ensuring connectivity in an ever-changing digital landscape.
Why is Skype not free anymore?
Skype is generally free for basic use. However, if you use it to call phones outside of the Skype platform, there might be a small charge. It's a nominal price to pay for transforming your computer or phone into a global communication hub.
A decent toolbox
Every app has its flaws, and Skype has to continue putting in more effort to make up for its sluggish performance. While the interface is neat and appealing, some work on the graphics is much needed. Despite the slowness, Skype provides high-quality audio on both voice and video calls. The connection is also very stable; it has far fewer drop rates compared to other calling apps like TextNow.
If you like it simple and solid, give Skype a try. There isn't much to die for, but those who just want a simple conversation will enjoy using this app. If you’ve already tried Zoom or Duo, or are an Instagram influencer, then this may be a downgrade.