Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have most probably heard of Skype. Around for over 16 years at this point, Skype is a VoIP service that allows you to make and receive free voice and video calls to friends and family over the internet using a computer or mobile device. In case you don’t know, VoIP (voice-over IP, pronounced VOIP) supplies ways to communicate that go around the standard methods of landlines and cellular plans.
Whether you’re working from home or looking for a way to chat with others using video, this incredible venture has broken traditional barriers to communication. Along with getting in touch with people in your in-app contacts, it can also be used to make international calls. If the person you’re chatting with also uses a Skype account, talking to them doesn’t cost anything extra. For an extra charge, however, you can call and text your contacts on their cellphones.
The History of Skype
The amazing venture started back in ’03 as an independent company during the early days of VoIP. The ownership of Skype changed a couple of times before Microsoft acquired it in ’11, who now owns it and develops it for both consumer and professional use cases.
It was once the best way to video chat with anyone and is often seen as one of the best ways to connect with new people worldwide. Although it is still widely used, it is no longer the most popular VoIP because communication has become mobile. Other apps and services such as WhatsApp and Viber have been more successful on mobile devices than Skype.
Several different services for business, personal, and creative needs are provided by Skype, including the following:
- Meet Now: This service is for quickly setting up a collaboration space. All you have to do is click a button, which creates the session and gives you a shareable link to send to Skype contacts and friends or family who are not on Skype. Participants can then easily join meetings whether they have an account or not.
- Skype Manager: As easily evident from its name, this service allows you to manage Skype usage for your business, group, or family. It helps you allocate credits (used to make non-Skype calls, more on this later) and control which features are available for your group members.
- Skype with Alexa: You can use Skype with Alexa, the digital assistant that comes with Amazon Echo devices.
Notable Features of Skype
A very feature-rich platform, Skype keeps on innovating. Here are some useful things you can do with it:
- Skype Translate: It allows two people to talk in different languages and understand each other because the app translates to each side of the conversation in real-time.
- End-to-end Encryption: Thanks to this feature, you wouldn’t have to worry about some unwanted visitors intercepting your conversations with others. This is all great, but there is still one thing that you should be aware of, and that is end-to-end encryption is only for instant messages, not for video or audio calls. You can elect to start a private conversation with anyone. These chats are end-to-end encrypted for maximum security. Note that you’ll need to start a new conversation with someone to encrypt it, rather than encrypting your previous or current conversations.
- Screen Sharing: This feature allows you to share your desktop screen during a video call easily. An excellent tool for businesses it helps with productivity, training, and troubleshooting by letting call participants show what’s on their desktops without having to send links or have anyone install other software.
- Live Subtitles: Whether you have a hearing impairment or want to keep the noise down, Skype now supports live subtitles for increased accessibility. A pretty handy feature, it displays a transcript on the video conversation itself so you can keep looking at who you’re speaking with instead of at a chat window. So, instead of hearing what other people say, turn on live subtitles and enjoy.
All of these features are available for free, but there are other things you can do if you’re willing to pay.
In the end, let me answer a few frequently answered questions about Skype:
What devices can you use with Skype?
At first, Skype was a separate app, only available for Mac and PC. This is no longer the case; today, it has strong iOS, Android, and other common mobile platforms. One can also use Skype on the web and access the same features available in the standalone versions.
To sum it up, it is available on the following platforms:
- Amazon Echo devices
Where can you get Skype?
For Skype on Windows and macOS, you can grab it directly from the Skype Website.
For iOS and Android users, you’ll find it on the App Store on iPhone and iPad and the Google Play Store for Android.
Can you make regular phone calls using Skype?
Well, yes, you can use this amazing technology to make calls to landlines and cellphones around the globe, but of course, it’s not free, and you’ll have to pay the price for it. You can make the calls from any device (as mentioned above) on which Skype is available and receive calls from your own personal Skype phone number.
As I said, it’s not free, and you’ll either need to sign up for a subscription or buy enough Skype Credit (more on this later) if your calls are going to be more infrequent.
What is Skype Credit?
Well, it’s a virtual currency that one can buy to make calls to standard mobile and landline phones if one doesn’t want to pay a subscription fee. Available in either $5, $10, or $25 options, you spend Skype Credit whenever you make a call, either locally or internationally.
Rates applied in all countries and territories generally apply in cents/minute range, though some calls can cost as much as $1.74/minute.
Some customers might find it the best available option, especially if one plans on using the phone calling feature on an irregular basis. Moreover, while a subscription offers you a flat monthly rate to make your calls, what that rate will be can get complicated depending on where you want to call.
How much does a subscription cost for making phone calls on Skype?
This is not an easy question to answer. Skype offers various subscription options depending on where you want to call, letting you save some dough if you only want to call a limited area. Moreover, while plans to call one international location to cost $6.99/month (though some cost even more than this), the number of minutes you get for that month can vary. Paying that price, for example, to call Japan, gets you three hundred minutes, while you get one thousand for China.
If you’re planning to call the US, you can pay just $2.99/month to call anywhere in the United States, including the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico. But, that $2.99 doesn’t necessarily cover everything, as after two thousand minutes, you’ll pay an additional rate of 15¢/minute.
If you want to call anywhere around the globe, sign up for the $13.99 a month World subscription. You can call sixty-three countries and territories worldwide with this plan, though you’ll have to stick to calling landlines in most of them. You can call landlines and mobile phones in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, Canada, China, Singapore, and Thailand.
Thank you for reading!