Top 10 Alternatives to FaceTime for iOS
Fed up with FaceTime? Looking for some great alternatives to Facetime for iOS? Well, my friend, you've come to the right place. You may be a die-hard iOS addict or newcomer but either way, you don't need to put up with FaceTime as your only means of video calling on your iOS device. Here is a collection of ten alternatives for you to happily video call your friends and family across the globe.
Most of these are essential for anyone who travels a lot for work, or pleasure (lucky you) but these are mission critical if you have long distance relationships!
The mobile device market is dominated by two major players, Android and iOS. Mobile applications have heard the call and tend to provide services across platforms so any suggestions here will work on other devices that are not iOS powered too. See we are good to you! Both operating systems have pros and cons and which one you select will tend to come down to personal choice, or for iOS, budget. There is an enormous marketplace of apps to run on your chosen operating system but most run on both, so no worries.
Although FaceTime is very stable for video calling it does need a WiFi connection and can only be used to call other iOS devices. That sucks right? It has gained a lot of popularity and is very user-friendly and works seamlessly with your iPhone, as you'd expect. It is, however, restricted to iOS devices. There are plenty of alternatives to FaceTime for iOS, some arguably considerably better.
In the following article, we'll take a look at some great alternatives to Facetime for iOS for your precious device. Without further ado here is our list of ten of alternatives to FaceTime for iOS.
[Image Source: Pixabay]
Let's kick things off with a heavy hitter. WhatsApp is a very popular, reliable and stable application that is an alternative to FaceTime for iOS. Like all on our list, it is free to download and use, and is very secure. So secure, in fact, that it has been threatened with being banned by some governments. If you travel a lot overseas this app is perfect for keeping in touch. Like all apps here, it is regularly updated and gets loads of new features added each time, or fixes of old ones. WhatsApp is easy to use and synchronize seamlessly with your address book.
From our experience, audio call connection can lag but that depends on your internet connection, especially over cellular network data connections. When using WiFi it's very good indeed. One of its strengths is its messaging feature that allows you to share text, images, videos and even audio messages. This has been its mainstay for several years and gets better with each update. Like other apps on the list, you can send your friends and invitation to join and the whole process is very easy and straightforward. File, contact sharing, location sharing work very well indeed with iOS. WhatsApp is perfect for the less tech savvy user but audio and video can be a little quirky on low bandwidths. Skype might be a better choice for video calling compared to WhatsApp but the latter is much better for IM etc.
WhatsApp is the perfect alternative to FaceTime for iOS for the less tech savvy user but audio and video can be a little quirky on low bandwidths. Skype might be a better choice for video calling compared to WhatsApp but the latter is much better for IM etc.
Once you've used Viber, you'll hear its iconic ringtone all around you, so beware! Viber has come a long way since its initial release and added many great services over time. It started out as a basic text and audio messaging app but has since added video calling to its repertoire. It initially attempted to synthesize Skype's audio chatting service but added video in 2014. Viber is quite new to the market but they have managed to build a strong brand to compete with the likes of Skype and of course iOS's native FaceTime.
A standout feature of Viber is its clean and intuitive user experience. By comparison, Skype and Google Hangouts can seem somewhat clunky and legacy to desktops. This does make sense since Skype is effectively a ported service to mobile devices, though the recent version is very good to be fair. Viber, on the other hand, has been built ground up to function on mobile devices.
Viber is not perfect though we should say. Like most apps here you are unable to communicate for free with non-Viber users, but you'd probably expect that. Some apps on the list do use SMS protocol to send messages to other non-users but Viber hasn't gone down this route. Although Viber is new, it is far from niche with around 280 million users worldwide.
Hangouts is a great alternative to FaceTime for iOS and, as you'd expect, it provides real-time chatting and video. You can use your Google ID across platforms, always a bonus. It will work on your iPhone, Mac and PC or Andriod device if you have them. Hangouts replaced Google Talk as the native app for Gmail a few years ago and have been constantly improved ever since.
Hangouts not only allows you to talk one-to-one but also supports multi-person calls for up to 10 people. You can directly compare it with FaceTime on your iPhone if you want to see what all the fuss is about. Hangouts beat FaceTime hands down when it comes to data latency management. This means you can use it without Wi-Fi connection over your mobile carrier data networks. Hangouts calls are completely free to other members, which is nice. You can message up to 100 people at once if you feel inclined as well.
As previously mentioned you will need a Google ID to use Hangouts, but this shouldn't be an issue for most. With this function, you keep all your address books contacts in order and even merge all your message streams into one easy-to-follow feed. Some users have complained about some glitches and bugs during calls, but these are rare. The ability to work off WiFi connection certainly compensates for the occasional bug.
If you're looking for a solid and user-friendly text, voice and video calling app then you can't go wrong with Line. It is very popular and has a user base of millions across the globe. Video calling is very stable and works very well indeed. Line does focus more on messaging than audio and video though, to be honest. You can access a lot of stickers and other features to improve your text messaging experience if you care about that sort of thing. Line is also cross platform, which is nice!
Like Whatsapp and Viber you will need to register your phone number to sign up. Once complete, you can start texting immediately with other users, some of your contacts may even have it already. Line is most popular in Asia and the West and now has over 200 million users worldwide. Line gives you free unlimited calls and texts between users of the same app. You can of course pay to all mobiles and landlines and it has a small social media network as well. If you live in a land where Whatsapp and Viber are restricted, Line is the obvious alternative.
Good ol' skype. You can call it the grandfather of video calling, some may even go so far as to call it a Dinosaur! How rude. Skype has been on the scene since 2003 and is a very mature and reliable service. Skype still holds its ground amongst the plethora of young "whipper-snappers" and for a very good reason. It used to share a back end with the music sharing system Kazaa. Skype has grown and developed steadily since 2011 and was finally acquired by Windows to replace its ill-fated Windows Live Messenger. It is, therefore, the standard service for Windows OS devices and is very reliable on other platforms. I use it constantly.
It used to be a little lagged and unresponsive on iPhone and iPad but since the more recent update, notably 5.0 in 2014, it has changed drastically. Skype now works very smoothly indeed on your iOS device and is a very stable application.
Skype works over a variety of bandwidths and you can rely on its very good call quality. If you feel inclined you can always rate the call once you are done. If your device can handle it you can even video chat in HD! Basic Skype accounts are free to open and provide free unlimited one-to-one calls with other skype users all over the world! Multi-person video calls did use to be a premium service but they are now included in the basic package. If you want to call landlines or mobiles across the world you will need to set up a monthly subscription to get included minutes as well as top up your balance if you got over. Skype is invaluable for the lone or remote worker which is very stable and reliable.
Skype is a great application and one of the best on the list. My parents call me regularly on it so it must be easy to use! Depending on your device the instant messaging during calls can be annoying but its main focus is video calling anyway. Oh and the iPhone app can be a little tricky to navigate if you mistakingly minimize full-screen feed of your friend or family. Might just be my fat fingers! I much prefer to use Skype than FaceTime to be honest.
You hoo, have you heard of ooVoo? No, this is one of the newcomers making good ground in the non-native comms market. It is rapidly making headway and building a big user base. Initially released on Windows in 2007 it has since moved to mobile in 2011. ooVoo made their SDK public in 2013 to allow developers to add their video chatting system to their own apps.
00Voo has a very robust group video chatting service which can handle up to 12 people simultaneously. The app has noise filtering algorithms to give you a very good sound quality and stop static noise from dominating the conversation. The app is pretty small and don't use a lot of bandwidth so it works well over 3G. Of course, Wi-fi connection will give you the optimal experience.
Like other entries on our list, voice calls are free to other users but you can pay per use for calling landlines and mobiles. The service is ad supported, however. This can be removed for $2.99 a month. You can also pay a subscription to increase your storage space on their servers to 1000 minutes. Or of course, just put up with them!
ICQ is another lesser known alternative to FaceTime for iOS. It is a great little application, however. As you'd expect you make free video calling with little stuttering or other issues. ICQ is pretty similar to Google Hangouts with its group chatting, messaging, calling and it also accommodates HD video calls. ICQ is cross-platform which allows you to communicate with users on different operating systems. There are some cross-platform syncing issues but other than that it is very solid.
ICQ strives to merge social network features with text messaging/calling in one place. It is ambitious but ICQ has done a good job so far. Apparently, the app does drain your battery pretty fast! There are also reports by some users of dropped chat messages, so beware. ICQ provides secure free video chats and high-quality audio calls as standard. Like others apps, it has group chats. You can even send 3D animated stickers through texts and IM on video calls. HD calls can be made with relatively low data usage which also integrates speech recognition tech. ICQ gives you unlimited chat members and your entire history can be viewed across all of your devices.
The app, not Google's AR project Tango! They are quite different. If you're after a fully developed and fledged alternative to FaceTime for iOS, that's why you're here after all, Tango might be your answer. To take full advantage of Tango you will need to persuade your friends and family to also install it. Initially released in 2009, it was specifically built for mobile devices. It is native to Android but the iOS and Windows versions are very good. Tango gives you wonderful hardware optimization, smooth user experience and great call quality.
You will need a WiFi connection to use it and you can interact with over 200 million users across the world without chewing up your data usage. Tango supports video calls, voice calls, text messaging and image chats. Sign up is very slick and free, which is reassuring. You can send invite messages to friends and family to join if they want to. Video chat is one-to-one only currently.
Tango isn't intended to just be a messaging and calling service, however, its developers have plans to make it a big social media platform in its own right. You can even have a public profile, news feeds games etc. Tango is as good as FaceTime for iOS and is much much more.
What is it with these apps and the color green? Anyway, WeChat is yet another popular alternative to FaceTime for iOS. It has around 100 million users worldwide. This app is a complete alternative to FaceTime and offers voice calls, text messaging and of course video calling. It is cross-platform and free to use (between users). WeChat does have some unique features like group chatting of up to 500 people with stickers and all that jazz. Video calls can be made from anywhere in the world so long as you have an internet connection.
WeChat is actually very popular in Asia, especially China, but since it's developed by a Chinese company this isn't surprising. It recently topped 50 million users worldwide over a comparatively short time period. With such a user base you'll not be surprised to hear that is now the most popular download in India, Malaysia, The Phillippines and Mexico. WeChat also recorded a 200% increase in downloads in the UAE within a single month of release.
Calling landlines and mobiles is, of course, a paid service but you can have multi-person video calls for up to 9 people.
Zangi is a new kid on the block but that doesn't mean it has no place on this list. Due to its age, it is not as popular as other apps on here but its growth has been superb and is set to continue. Zangi is a very reliable and solid application and is well known for its video calling over low data networks, such as 2G! It also has excellent security features, which is nice to know. Zangi comes into its own on lower spec phones, so if you have an older smartphone you can't go wrong.
Zangi, like others here, has full end-to-end encryption which makes calling and messaging very secure indeed. This security is bolstered by the fact that Zangi does not store any of your conversations on central servers of any kind. Its low data consumption cuts down on potential roaming costs when away from home soil. You can make a 7-minute call for only 1MB of data, for example. Zangi has a very easy to use interface and is pretty great all round.
Honorable mention #1: Facebook Messenger
Facebook is the powerhouse of social media and its messenger service has proved to be very stable and reliable indeed. Did you know you can also make audio and video calls with it? Group chats are always fun and easy to use and you can share file, instant message and use emoticons to your heart's desire. Facebook Messenger is cross-platform so you can keep in touch with people using iOS, Android, Windows desktops, tablets and the list goes on. Of course, it works best over WiFi but does lack the quality and simplicity of others on our list such as the more dedicated ones. Skype tends to win hands down for this, to be honest.
Honorable mention #2: Fring
Frankly, I'd never heard of this one but Fring is a light-weight alternative to FaceTime for iOS. It is predominantly built for group chats and messaging but it has great individual video hangout features. It might be worth a browse if nothing else.
The following review is for Android but it's cross-platform, so whatever.
Alternatives to FaceTime for iOS: Final word(s)
Your choice of alternatives to FaceTime for iOS will ultimately come down to personal choice and which ones your friends or family feel comfortable using. Geography may also play a part as some of the apps may not be available in your lands, e.g. WhatsApp. If you mainly use FaceTime for video calling then Skype, Google Hangouts and ooVoo might be your best choice. If you have an older or low spec phone, there are some apps in here that would work perfectly for you. Some apps here are pretty long in the tooth but that's not a bad thing. Like a fine vintage, they have grown with age and are more widely available and mature enough with few bugs. For me, Skype has been invaluable for many years and "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".
Some of the entries on our list let you simulate other social media networks, ICQ for example, so if you want that, go for it! All entries are pretty much like for like but some are certainly better than others for user experience. Apps like Zangi are ideal for low spec phones and yet you still get video calling! Awesome eh?
What about you? Do you use any of these yourself? Have we missed any? Let's start a conversation, leave your suggestions and user experiences in the comments section. We look forward to hearing your comments about app alternatives to facetime for iOS.