Technology Review: Calling Apps
Rapidly increasing technology gave users the freedom to communicate messages and gossips amongst their family and friends within a second. There are many applications for placing telephone calls or sending SMS text messages free for the Android platform. With the arrival of Wi-Fi Technology, making free calls with the Android phone has become easier and better.
Carriers might be putting a choke hold on unlimited data plans but that doesn’t mean they’re losing out. Free Wi-Fi hotspots are still popping up everywhere, not forgetting their home and office.
Here are some of the best applications I know that offer free calls:
fring has a lot going for it from audio and video calls to chat. This application lets you add other communication services from AOL to Google Talk as well as connecting with your phone book, letting you talk with anyone on just one app.
Of course, the catch for free calls is that the other party needs to have fring on their phone. This isn’t a problem since it is available not only for Android but also for iOS and Nokia. Their latest version supports video conference with up to four people at a time over any data connection. You can also call to regular phones by buying credit so you can talk to landlines and feature phones locally and abroad.
Nimbuzz is also another good pick, available for free. Bring over friends from Facebook, ICQ and yes, even MySpace. You can make free voice and video calls and send text messages to your friends once they’re on Nimbuzz. Photo and music sharing also comes as a compliment. It works on almost every phone out there from Android to iPhone and from BlackBerry to feature phones that can run Java apps. It’s also available on the desktop, so you can call people over your laptop or on your Mac.
While it might not have any fancy video calls, you can still use it to make regular calls using credits. It also has a webchat feature if you want to connect with friends using other computers.
With Qik, not only can you make one-on-one calls, you can also broadcast videos live as well as drop in on video feeds of your friends. This app, of course, needs the other party to have Qik installed, which is available on Android, iOS and other phones. You can also share videos to a myriad or other services like YouTube, Facebook and more. Just remember that for calls, this works best with a front-facing camera.
Any free calling list is never complete without the ever-ubiquitous Skype. A good indicator of its popularity is its verb status, with “skyping” synonymous to calling over a computer. While Skype did start its service using computers, mobile phones have benefited greatly by the many applications the company has released. You can call almost any computer and any phone for free provided they have Skype; most do, since this is almost a requirement for any device.
If you want to call regular phones, Skype also has you covered – all you need is to buy credits. The credits are a bit pricey though, compared to fring. The Android application allows you to add your contacts so you can call them through Skype or send those IMs. In selective Android phones, you can even make video calls.
This was the go to video call application for many who were snubbed by Skype not letting calls over 3G. Tango lets you make voice or video calls using your Android phone via any data connection you might have. It takes the best video calls around, being good enough to be featured on TV several times. Yes, it's free if both users have Tango. It does take two for it to work, as the saying goes.
Ported over from iOS, this is one of the most straightforward free call applications out there. Install it and it scans your address book, connecting you with other Viber users without the need for silly usernames and email verifications. Your user ID is your phone number.
You can go ahead and put it in your home screen since not only can you make free calls to other Viber users, you can also send messages to them, make regular SMS and calls and even email right from Viber. The one thing Viber is proud of is its call quality: it has very clear audio with no lags, as if you were using your regular line. This is one application you definitely need on your Android.
7. Yahoo! Messenger
Yahoo! might not be a big shot in other areas of the world but it’s still big in Asia. Their messenger application is the IM avenue of choice for many in this part of the globe and the Android app is no different. If you have Froyo on your phone, you can initiate audio and video calls. On top of that, Yahoo! can send free international SMS and chat with facebook friends. All you need is a plugin to run this application.
ooVoo sets itself apart by giving you 6-way video calling over 3G or 4G (not free) and group video chatting (free). ooVoo, like other applications, is free and hands out free calls to other users. It only has a shortlist of supported phones though but they’re working on expanding that. If you have a website or a blog, you can put a link there so people without ooVoo installed can still call you over the web.