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We’ve Tried 5 Skype Alternatives and Here’s Our Honest Team’s Feedback

November 27, 2017
20 min read

OK Skype, you’ve been with us for years.

The number one app we’d start at work along with the first cup of coffee.

But the truth is, nothing lasts forever.

As 2017 wraps up, it looks like the time has finally come to move on to faster, safer and more reliable modern tools.

Thanks to building Chanty – a simple, AI-powered team chat, our team had to perform an in-depth analysis of our competitors. We’ve considered their pros and cons from a customer’s perspective and tried to come up with a better, cleaner and more user-friendly chat alternative. Feel free to join our amazing community of early adopters and share your feedback.

Improve your team communication with Chanty

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Why search for Skype alternatives?

If you are searching for Skype alternatives, it’s most likely you are concerned with one of these:

How often people searched for Skype 2004-2017

The Google trend for “Skype” keyword searches goes down mercilessly.

However, this pioneer communication app is far from its sunset.

In fact, Microsoft has a huge bet around it.

Here’s the proof – they’ve completely rebranded Lync, one of their major corporate tools, into Skype for business.

Image source

Our Skype alternatives experiment

Nevertheless, we’ve seen a handful of new communication and video conferencing apps populating the market lately. There are so many that it’s hard to navigate in the ocean of the similar tools promising to connect the entire world.

Our team at Chanty decided to sort things out and see which apps are worth considering. We’ve actually used five top Skype alternatives with our colleagues and we can’t wait to share our experience and feedback.

But first, let’s see what Skype lets you do to make sure the apps we’ll be testing out are measuring up. Here’s an outline of the top features Skype offers:

  1. One to one instant chat
  2. Group instant chat
  3. Audio calls
  4. Video calls
  5. Screen sharing
  6. Call phone numbers (mobile, landline)

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Now when we know what to look for, it’s time to try out the top Skype alternatives.

Chanty vs Skype

Google Hangouts vs Skype

Appear.in vs Skype

FaceTime vs Skype

Viber vs Skype

Chanty vs Skype

Many companies use Skype to chat at work. If you are one of them, it’s time to take a look at team messengers as they are just way more convenient when it comes to work communication.

Chanty is an AI-powered messenger for business. It’s also a single notification center. It means that (unlike Skype) you will be able to receive notifications from different apps you are using directly to Chanty.

How about bringing all your notifications into one place?

E.g. your team might be using MailChimp, Xero, Salesforce or Zendesk software during the day. Chanty lets you stay informed of everything that happens there by integrating with those apps and delivering notifications right to the specific conversation in Chanty.

Chanty is designed for team communication

I have to highlight again that Chanty is a communication tool for teams. Unlike Skype where everyone can get in touch with you – your auntie, colleague and your ex, Chanty closed team space environment is designed for you and your colleagues. You won’t get distracted by a great grandmother’s dog walker best friend’s roommate anymore.

Company-wide, private or one to one discussions

You can communicate one on one or team up in groups in Chanty. Group chats are available in a form of public and private conversations. This way you can have open company-wide discussions or share sensitive information in private, invite only chats.

Chanty is at its beta stage now, therefore some of the features are to be added soon. Let’s take a look at Chanty vs Skype in this table.

Chanty vs Skype

Chanty vs Skype
Features Chanty Skype
Interface and design Simple and clean More complicated and less intuitive
Instant chat Yes Yes
Audio and video calls with screen sharing Yes* Yes
Integrations with third party software Yes* No
Search Searchable messages, files and links Searchable messages
Message history limit No limit No limit
One to one
Public Private conversations
Yes One to ones and group chats
File sharing – Files you share are stored at Chanty cloud and could be easily forwarded to anyone

– Each file receives a unique link

– You can also view images in the chat feed

All kinds of files that you need to download to get a full screen view
SMS, landline and mobile calls No Yes
AI-powered Chanty AI lets you focus on what’s important delivering the key takeaways of every conversation* No
Supported platforms Android, iOS, web, Windows, macOS Android, iOS, web, Windows, macOS, Linux
Price Freemium It’s free until you want to send SMS or call mobile/landline numbers.
In-app ads No ads Yes
*Coming soon

Chanty vs Skype summary

Choose Chanty if your are looking for a team communication tool and Skype if you need an app for personal communication. Here are some takeaways:

And last, but not least – we are working hard and designing Chanty with love and passion so it becomes the communication app of tomorrow. Our goal is to save time, improve communication and foster collaboration in your team. Join our community of early adopters and be the first to give Chanty a try 😉

Improve your team communication with Chanty

Be the first to try our simple AI-powered team chat

Google Hangouts vs Skype

The tools are quite similar when it comes to communication features. Both apps let you chat, make audio and video conferences, call mobile and landline. We have written an in-depth comparison on Hangouts vs Skype in another article so take a look if you need additional details on these two apps. Meanwhile, let’s see who’s the winner when it comes to features:

Google Hangouts vs Skype

Google Hangouts vs Skype
Features Google Hangouts Skype
Instant chat Up to 100 people Doesn’t specify
Audio and video group calls Up to 10 people Up to 25 people
Screen sharing Yes Yes
Chat extras Maps, emojis, stickers, and GIFs Smileys, mojis;

Send contacts, location, video messages

File sharing Images only 300 MB (larger files could be sent via OneDrive, their cloud storage). Files are available for 30 days on all devices
Supported platforms Android, iOS, and the web Android, iOS, web, Windows, macOS, Linux
SMS No Yes, paid option
Landline and mobile calls Yes, paid option Yes, paid option
Price It’s free on your gmail account and $5 for G Suite package with Hangouts included into it. It’s free until you want to send SMS or call mobile/landline numbers.
In-app ads Hell no Hell to the Yes

Google Hangouts unfamiliar interface vs Skype radical redesign

Hangouts looks different. It’s NOT like the chat app you are used to. Every new chat opens up in a new window and when you have more than ten chats on the screen it becomes an issue. Overall, it’s hard to agree that Google Hangouts interface is user-friendly.

However, I can’t fail to mention the eye pleasing professional photos on the app background. There’s only one downside – if you want to change the background image, there’s absolutely no way to do it.

Although Skype has kept its interface layout for years, its Snapchat-like radical redesign came as a surprise in 2017. According to a number of comments like “This latest update is the most thrown-together looking thing I’ve seen in a long time” people don’t seem to be thrilled with it.

Looks like Microsoft is making a strategical move putting Skype and Skype for Business apart. From a business-oriented app which Skype initially was, it has turned into a Snapchat-like, millennials-oriented tool to hang out with your pals.

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Oops, you can’t turn Hangouts notifications on

There’s obviously an issue with notifications in Google Hangouts. Guess what happens when there’s an incoming Hangouts call and your computer sound is turned off? You’ll miss it unless you don’t have Gmail or Hangouts browser tabs opened.

Unlike Skype where video/audio call push notification pops up right in front of you, Hangouts doesn’t inform you about the call. But wait, there’s a nice email waiting at your Gmail Inbox informing that someone’s calling you right now. Don’t want to miss a call? Better check your email more often.

Unfortunately, chat notifications don’t seem to work in Hangouts either. When you turn on the notifications in settings, nothing happens.

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No, you can’t attach a .zip file in Hangouts

Images only. At the same time you can send all kinds of files in Skype. The moment I’ve tried to send a .zip archive, I’ve realized it’s not an option. Google is obviously encouraging the use of Google Drive to exchange links rather than attaching files.

Hm…Is it Hangouts that limits my options or is it files exchange that’s outdated? If you are used to sending files back and forth, Hangouts isn’t the best choice for you.

Hangouts wasn’t designed for text messages. Here’s why:

Integration with Google – the great thing about Hangouts

It’s time to be nice to Google. Integration with other Google services helps you stay connected with your friends or colleagues. There’s a Hangouts chat waiting for you at the left-bottom in Gmail which is quite handy. If you hang out at Gmail a lot, you can instantly reach all of your Hangouts contacts as they are right at your fingertips.

Video/audio calls + screen sharing feature work pretty well

The truth is, the #1 reason people use Google Hangouts is the video calling feature. We’ve decided to give it a check both in Hangouts and Skype and detect a winner. The team video call went fine on both apps. We haven’t spotted any issues with the screen sharing either (unless you experience issues with the internet connection). Therefore, when you need to hold a video conference, feel free to trust both Hangouts and Skype.

Google Hangouts vs Skype summary

Appear.in vs Skype

The guys from Appear.in went every extra mile to get users on the video call as easy and fast as possible. When you head over to their website, there is a type box right on the first screen where you put your video room name and voila – the video conference is up and running.

Appear.in is free for up to 8 people

You can also have a conference with up to 12 people for an extra charge – $12 per month. Premium plan allows to show your screen along with a video of you making comments at the same time. Moreover, you can brand the screen with a custom logo and a background image.

Appear.in vs Skype

Appear.in vs Skype
Features Appear.in Skype
Video / audio call quality Excellent Excellent
In-video options Augmented reality, stickers and smileys Smileys, mojis;

Send contacts, location, video messages

Screen sharing Yes, requires web extension  installation Built-in screen sharing option
Text messages options Simple chat with no additional options Copy, quote, edit, remove
Landline / mobile calls No Yes, paid option
Supported platforms Android, iOS, web Android, iOS, web, Windows, macOS, Linux
Starting a video call process One-click, no signup required You need to sign up and add contacts before starting a video call
Video conference limits 8 people in a free plan,

Up to 12 people in a premium plan for $12 per month

Up to 25 people
SMS No Yes, paid option
File sharing, search messages No Yes
In-app ads No Yes

Appear.in won’t let you exchange files, search or edit messages

Since people often compare Skype and Appear.in, it should be highlighted that chat functionality is quite limited at Appear.in. Just like with Hangouts, you can’t edit, delete, pin or forward messages. All you have is a simple chat.

Moreover, there’s no way to exchange any files in Appear.in (if your remember, Hangouts lets you send images only). If you need a powerful chat app to go with your video conferencing tool, you have to look for other tools like our Chanty team chat, as Appear.in wasn’t designed for effective text communication.

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Have some fun with Appear.in augmented reality

It was cool playing with various video add-ons like stickers and augmented reality in Appear.in.  Although it’s not the #1 feature you need at work, it definitely gives your mood a boost.

Appear.in vs Skype summary

It’s extremely easy to start a video conference in a clean and slick Appear.in app. Our team liked it a lot – it’s free for up to 8 people, audio and video quality is great, the augmented reality is fun. It turned out Appear.in is more likely to be a direct competitor to Google Hangouts rather than Skype. Video communication is their main purpose while chat functionality is a less important side feature.

On the other hand there’s Skype designed for both video and text conversations with its powerful chat functionality and high quality video calls. Is there a real Skype alternative out there? Let’s find out.

FaceTime vs Skype

Introduced in 2010, FaceTime lets you make audio and video calls on your Apple devices – MacBook, iPhone, iPod, iPad, iWatch. It means you won’t be able to reach your Android friends or colleagues. There is no way to use FaceTime on Windows either. Another huge disadvantage is you can’t make a group call. Only one to one calls are available. Needless to say, FaceTime doesn’t support an instant text chat. If you are an Apple fan, you know there’s iMessage app for this purpose.

Let’s take a closer look at FaceTime and Skype features in this table.

FaceTime vs Skype

FaceTime vs Skype
Features FaceTime Skype
Instant chat No Powerful chat
Audio and video group calls No group calls, one on one only Group calls with up to 25 people
Screen sharing No Yes
Chat extras No Smileys, mojis;

Send contacts, location, video messages

File sharing No 300 MB (larger files could be sent via OneDrive, their cloud storage). Files are available for 30 days on all devices
Supported platforms iOS, macOS Android, iOS, web, macOS, Windows, Linux
SMS No Yes, paid option
Landline and mobile calls No Yes, paid option
Price Free It’s free until you want to send SMS or call mobile/landline numbers.
In-app ads No Yes

FaceTime vs Skype summary

It’s hard to say FaceTime and Skype are competitors. Video calls is the only feature FaceTime and Skype have in common. Just like every other Apple app, FaceTime requires iOS, macOS or watchOS and it’s only good for a direct one on one call. It doesn’t associate with a tool you’d use for work. The bottom line is it’s good for a personal use to make a quick call to a friend or relative with an Apple device.

Update as of June 2018: Apple has recently introduced the group calls for FaceTime (up to 32 people) as a part of their yearly update (will be available in September 2018). 

Viber vs Skype

Viber gets the closest to Skype in terms of features. However, there are two big differences between the apps.

Big difference #1 Viber video calls are one to one only

Video and audio calls are available for one to one communication only. Which means saying “bye” to group video conferences. This limit instantly makes Viber an app for personal use, not for team communication.

Big difference #2 Viber requires your cell phone number

Viber revolves around your telephone number and, as a result, your smartphone. Initially it was a mobile app and the desktop version was introduced later on. You won’t sign up unless you have a working cell phone number. Moreover, you’ll need your phone to confirm the login on desktop app as well.

No, You can’t view files shared in Viber

As you already know, there’s an ability to view all the files you’ve shared with a particular contact in Skype. Unfortunately, Viber lacks this functionality as it’s an app mostly used on smartphones where you don’t share files that much. Moreover, when you make a search with a file name in Viber, you won’t find it as you can search through messages only.

US mobile/landline calls? Use Viber. UK mobile calls? Use Skype

Both Skype and Viber offer landline and mobile calls at affordable prices. Viber landline calls to US are free while mobile calls are as low as 1.9 cents per minute. At the same time Skype charges you 2.3 cents for all US calls. Landline calls to UK are the same affordable 1.9 cents, however mobile prices are almost 6 cents per minute.

What’s cool about Viber though – calls you make with Viber Out use your cell number on the receiver’s call display.

Businesses who have your cell number keep sending you spam

Although, you can unsubscribe every time you receive a message from a new business, it takes time and draws your attention away. I’ve received more than ten business offers from companies this Black Friday. Every year the number of companies using Viber as their communication channel with customers grows.

The rest of functionality is pretty similar to Skype. Let’s take a look at this Viber vs Skype comparison.

Viber vs Skype

Viber vs Skype
Features Viber Skype
Group chat 250 people Doesn’t specify
Message actions Copy, forward, delete for myself, delete for everyone.
You can’t edit messages
Copy, quote, edit, remove
File sharing All kinds of files All kinds of files
Search Basic search within messages, no files search. More advanced and convenient search functionality
Audio / video calls Yes, one-to-one only,
No group calls
Up to 25 people
Screen sharing Yes Yes
In-chat extras Stickers, emoticons, giphy, YouTube, Wikipedia, Guggy, Movies Smileys, mojis;

Send contacts, location, video messages

Landline / mobile calls Yes Yes
Pricing Free with paid options:
– landline/mobile calls- extra stickers- paid services for businesses
Free with paid options:
– landline/mobile calls- SMS
SMS to a mobile number No Yes
In-app ads Yes Yes

Viber vs Skype summary

Considering the more powerful search functionality, ability to view files and edit messages in Skype, it’s more convenient to use it on a desktop rather than Viber. In its turn, Viber with its ties to your cell number remains an app that you feel more comfortable using on your smartphone. Here are some more takeaways:

Skype alternatives summary

We’ve analyzed 5 Skype alternatives and actually tried them for a while to communicate with our Chanty team. Now we are ready to share our ultimate feedback and recommendations.

Here’s our take on when to use different Skype alternatives:

  1. Chanty. In case you are using Skype for communication with your teammates and looking for a smarter alternative. Chanty is great for saving time, organizing your workflow and collaborating with other software your team uses at work.
  2. Google Hangouts. If you are a heavy Gmail user who needs reliable video conferencing software with an ability to make cheap landline and mobile calls. Hangouts isn’t the best option for instant messaging though.
  3. Appear.in. Give it a try when you need to quickly jump on the video call. We haven’t seen an app that’s easier and more user friendly when it comes to video communication. However, instant messaging isn’t their focus, just like with Google Hangouts.
  4. FaceTime. If you and your friends are using Apple devices, it might work well for one-to-one video communication. But don’t expect anything more – no group calls or text messaging yet available.
  5. Viber. Viber is fun with its stickers, gifs and emoticons. It’s great for personal communication and allows one-to-one audio/video calls only. Remember though that you’ll be tied to your telephone number and a smartphone.

Skype is still a powerful solution. Its bandwidth limit when it comes to a number of people in the video conference communicating simultaneously is the highest among the alternatives we’ve analyzed. It’s also available on a wide variety of platforms. Apart from high quality video service it’s also got an expanded chat functionality which gives Skype a serious competitive advantage.

Still use Skype at work?

With its shift to “an app for personal use”, we highly recommend to switch from Skype to team communication software. It saves you time, organizes your workflow, boosts collaboration while making communication of your team members easier.

Luckily, you are in a right place. Sign up for Chanty beta test to try our AI-powered team chat and a single notification center.

Improve your team communication with Chanty

Be the first to try our simple AI-powered team chat

Author:

Olga Mykhoparkina

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