Microsoft's whopping US$ 8.5 billion purchase of Skype is probably good news for a large pool of video chat users, but there's undoubtedly those who are worried about the possible implications of the acquisition. While there's no exact clone of Skype floating around out there, a number of tools would still make great alternatives for those that fall into the latter category:
Originally an iPhone-only service, Viber (news, site) claimed somewhere around 10 million downloads in early May, 2011 when it opened up a beta for Android. The Android app adds a couple of unique features over the iPhone version, including a full call screen when a Viber call is received, popup text notification that lets users reply without the need to fully open the app, as well as the ability to act as the phone's default dialer — for both normal calls and VoIP calls.
The VoIP service is free, runs in the background, and doesn't charge anything to make calls over 3G and WiFi:
Just weeks later, the service now claims 15 million downloads. We wonder how many of those are thanks to the Microsoft/Skype deal.
goober (news, site) is a multi-messenger for both your desktop and mobile device. Free services include calls from goober user to goober user, video calls, call forwarding to a goober user, and receiving calls.
Further, the desktop application integrates popular networks like Facebook and Twitter so you can keep track of all your favorite actions at once:
VoxOx (news, site) is like a combination of Skype, Google Voice and TweetDeck with some file sharing capabilities thrown on top. A unified Google Voice-like number will ring all of a user's connected phones, calls are 1 cent per minute in several countries, and the service also has a mobile app, which was most recently demonstrated here:
ooVoo (news, site) lets you video conference with up to six people at once, and is especially neat because it also allows users to send video messages rather than emails if typing just isn't your thing.
Although currently only available for Windows users, there's some Mac-friendly software in the works. Further, the company sells several compatible third-party cameras, headsets and speakerphones, and runs its own servers, making an outage less likely.
You had to know this one was coming. Google Voice (news, site) provides free PC-to-PC voice and video calls, free PC-to-phone calls within the U.S. and fairly cheap calls elsewhere. The service also provides a range of other useful features, such as voicemail, SMS, conference calling, call screening and voicemail transcription.
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