Mobile apps have become our way of life, first for function, then creativity and by now we have bridged in to downright ridiculousness. But believe it or not, the quality of communication has never been better. It was only a matter of time before someone side-stepped the middle man to build and even improve the way we use our phones, without actually being charged for using our phones. I just want to chat for free!
Never before has the world so literally been at our fingertips, but with great power comes great responsibility to frequently manage your digital communication. On any given day, my iPhone harp alarm strums at 5:30am and I roll over in the dark to embrace Facebook. I get up, brush my teeth and spend some time with Instagram and Snapchat, no selfies before coffee of course. I fix my hair and make sure I haven't missed a Voxox or Skype call from international friends in various time zones. Then its breakfast with side of LinkedIn, a little email if Im feeling ambitious, Pinterest as I pack my purse and a mild amount of swearing in the car when I realize Im somehow late to work, again.
Streamline on a Dime
I am always looking to streamline this process. As apps evolve they're becoming more similar, but each brings a different strength to my very full digital plate, specifically my direct communication apps. My goal here is always the same; to chat for free. I grew up in an international household and remember the cost of long distance, it was a bi-monthly ritual to phone an uncle in New York, or an annual Christmas call to friends in Australia, and although rates are more competitive now, Ill take a mobile app to chat for free over excessive transcontinental costs any day! The question is not whether this is an easy choice, but rather, which product most efficiently streamlines our various forms of direct communication?
Battle of the Apps
There is a vast universe of mobile communication apps, many of the more complex tools highlighted by Nik Peachy in a recent post, where he covered visual communication apps worth investigating for educational purposes. Nik points out, One of the great things about mobile devices such as tablets, iPads and phones is that most modern devices have good quality cameras and microphones built in App developers have been quick to exploit the potential of this powerful tool.
Of course, being the average user, when I chat for free Im only dependent on my basics; Skype, Facebook Messenger, and Voxox.
Skype provides the most ubiquitous video calling these days, so I can watch my college roommates baby take his first steps in San Luis Obispo, or cook dinner with a girlfriend in Seattle. Plain and simple, its my face to face staple.
Facebook is the largest social media platform in existence, but it is also arguably the most common vehicle in the international community for direct SMS and image sharing through FB Messenger. I can chat for free with travel buddies in England and my old neighbor in Argentina simultaneously, even if no one has time to sit down for a call. And because nearly everyone (including my 87 year old Grandmother) has a Facebook account, nearly everyone is comfortable with the software for a seamless experience using FB Messenger. While Skype has SMS and image sharing capabilities, I find the user experience is awkward.
Voxox plays heavily to the users experience, mimicking and accessing elements of your phone for calls, SMS, image and location sharing, but where Voxox has the upper hand on similar products is faxes, call forwarding, transcribed voicemails and the ability to send images as PDF attachments in emails integrating your social communication with professional tools, and once again, allowing you to chat for free.
In 2010, the iPhone attempted to rival this movement with the introduction of FaceTime, a video chat feature on iOS 4. While FaceTime is convenient for iPhone users to chat for free, it will never take the top spot for one major reason: Its undermines the very idea of communication! The feature exclusively targets the iPhone community that only accounts for 43.5% of US smart phone owners, alienating over half the potential users with the ironic intention of improving communication. So, while FaceTime can be used to chat for free, the network is limited.
In the battle of the apps, the best product completely depends on the user. I rely heavily on Voxox for convenience because technology has integrated, and therefore streamlined the social and professional aspects of my life quite well. Your needs may be different. But, no matter which product best suits you, I'm sure no one can argue the benefit of chatting for free.