If you or a friend have had an iPhone since 2010 you are no doubt already familiar with Facetime. The in-built Apple feature allows users to chat with friends while seeing their every move on video, using the front-facing camera on their phones or devices. Using VoIP technology (Voice over Internet Protocol – put simply, a phone service over the internet) Facetime doesn’t use minutes on a phone plan and so provides a cheap and fun alternative to a call to a friend or long distance phone calls with a lover. Which is all great…as long as you and everyone you know has an Apple product. Facetime on Samsung is not an option because as an Apple product, it is only available to Apple users on their iOS platform. So does this mean that it isn’t possible for Samsung Geeks to video chat and that this is a luxury reserved solely for Apple users? Far from it. So… what is the Samsung alternative to Facetime?
The answer is that there isn’t just one alternative; you have a choice of alternatives, all competing with each other and therefore improving their offer to users all the time. What is more, alternatives to Facetime generally operate across platforms, meaning you’re not restricted to video-chatting with your fellow Android- or Windows-using brethren but can equally socialise with Apple product owners alike. Should you be lucky enough to have more than one friend, some of the alternatives offer group video-chatting facilities, which Facetime does not.
As the Samsung alternatives to Facetime require users to have the relevant app (and may require you to create an account) you will have to decide which one – or which few – to go for. Just like Facetime, in order to video-chat these alternatives also require your friend(s) to have the same app so here we set out the more popular alternatives and point you in the direction of a few of the fast-growing others that you may like to try.
Alternative #1: Google Hangouts
With 500 million users on Android alone, Google Hangouts is the most popular Facetime alternative. It is therefore the video-chatting app your friends are most likely to already have so you shouldn’t have to persuade them all to get it. Hangouts is pre-loaded on new Android phones or can be easily downloaded from the Play Store for free. If you already have a Google account, you can sign in with your login details and will already be set up and ready to go.
As well as standard features such as instant messaging, and voice-only calls, Hangouts allows free group video-calls for up to ten users. It also works across all platforms plus PCs and iOS devices, including across low bandwidth and across mobile networks so you really have no excuse for not calling your Mum once in a while!
To enhance their offer, Google have recently introduced the Hangouts Dialer app which allows users to use calling credit (purchased through your Google account) to make cheap voice-calls to landlines and mobiles. It’s worth noting that Hangouts – just like Facetime and the other Facetime alternatives – will use data from your mobile plan if you’re using it over a mobile network and not on WiFi.
Alternative #2: Skype
As the first popular video-calling software, Skype is a well known and widely used alternative to Facetime. Even before the release of their video-chatting Android app in 2011, Skype has long been a popular choice for computer users to stay in touch. Since then, Skype has gained 100 million Android users and now has 300 million users across all platforms so the chances are you won’t be short of friends who already use it.
The Skype app can be downloaded from the Play Store for free and as it is now owned by Microsoft, if you already have a Microsoft account (such as Hotmail or MSN) you can get going straight away by entering your account details. If not, you can quickly set up a free account.
In the past, holding group video-chats with Skype required a paid subscription to Skype Premium. However in order to compete with other video-chat services, Skype has recently made group video-chat free for up to ten users in a call. Another recent update for Android has seen the introduction of picture-in-picture functionality meaning you can keep your video-chat going in the corner of your screen while browsing the internet (or playing Candy Crush!).
Similar to Hangouts, by purchasing Skype Credit you can make cheap voice calls to landlines and mobiles although be sure to use a WiFi connection if you don’t have an all-you-can-eat data plan.
Alternative #3: Viber
Once the Viber app has been downloaded for free from the Play Store, you will need to enter your phone number to create a Viber identity. You will then receive a text with a code that you will need to enter into Viber to activate your account.
Viber will sync with your phone’s contact list and will show you which of your friends already have a Viber account. To start a video-chat with one of them, you need to first select ‘Free Call’ before tapping the video call button (that looks like a camcorder) once the audio call has started. In case you’re really popular, Viber allows you to hold a group call with up to forty users so you don’t need to leave anyone out.
If your friends don’t already have Viber (and you can’t persuade them to get it) you can still make cheap voice calls to their landline or mobile using the Viber Out feature, although you will first need to purchase Viber credit.
What is the Samsung alternative to Facetime?
Samsung users don’t have to miss out on video-calling just because you can’t use Facetime. The three alternatives outlined above are the most used and you are therefore less likely to have to nag your friends to download them too in order to get started.
However there is an ever growing range of alternatives available with a sizeable number of users so you may also wish to experiment with these. Tango, Oovo and Fring all have video-chat functionality and while services such as Zoom are primarily aimed at business users, they can equally be used to socialise with friends.
So Samsung Geeks, don’t limit yourself to audio calls and texting, start downloading video-chat apps to your device and get even more sociable with your friends!