For too long, phone users have been hesitant to make long distance calls – ironically, even more so in the mobile phone age. The technology that should make it easier than ever to talk to our loved ones, wherever they are in the world, has been hampered by roaming and international call charges. Tales of horrendous phone bills unwittingly racked up on holiday, the hassle of having to use international calling cards – isn’t it about time the mobile phone industry caught up with international phone users’ needs?
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According to Business insider, 1 in every 5 people now own a smartphone – that’s 1.4 billion smartphone users across the globe. Whilst international call charges are coming down, in no small part thanks to the efforts of global governments forcing service providers to cap their roaming charges, making calls abroad from your mobile is seldom free – or is it?
Thanks to a whole raft of new apps for smartphones, making international calls, and sending SMS, audio and MMS messages is cheaper than ever – and, in some cases, free. Here’s a look at some of the apps that are leading the way in the free communication revolution.
If you have friends and family abroad, we’re sure you’re only too familiar with watching the clock while you make calls to them. Vonage Extensions helps you ditch the clock, by offering unlimited international calls to 70 countries from your smartphone. Whichever Vonage home phone package you choose, from our Vonage Talk + Mobile option offering inclusive mobile calls, to our Vonage Premium + World + Mobile option offering unlimited international calling, you can share your call plan with up to two smartphones by downloading the free Extensions app.
Love to text rather than call? If you’re fed up paying for SMS and MMS messages, and paying even more when you want to send them to friends, family or colleagues overseas, then you need to get with the WhatsApp craze. Recently bought out by Facebook, WhatsApp is a messaging app that has cleverly taken advantage of data plans on smartphones to provide a practically free alternative to texting. The service costs nothing for the first year and is $0.99 a year thereafter, letting users all over the globe swap text, pictures and audio clips, as well as set up group chats. This free app was designed by two former Yahoo employees with a passion for free communication and a hatred for advertising – so that’s another plus point right there – no annoying ads and pop-ups.
If chatting online is more your thing then Voxox can help make your international mobile communications even easier. Voxox is a consumer software service for making free or cheap calls to anywhere in the world, with text, chat, fax, file sharing and more. It allows you to share photos, videos and your location over chat, with one very handy extra – in-chat language translation between 37 different languages. To use Voxox you need to download software, which is available as mobile apps for Android & iOS or software for Windows and Mac.
For a while now the Line app has been providing a very popular free messaging service. Now it’s started up a landline call service too, called Line Premium Call. While calls aren’t free, they are competitively priced, and the smart feature that this app offers is that it keeps you firmly in control of your call costs. As soon as you start dialing the number you want to call or select it in your contacts, the app displays the cost before you make that call. Keeping things nice and simple, when you want to make calls to landlines abroad you use the same Line messaging app on your phone to make the call. The app is free to use on Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Nokia Asha & Firefox OS, and is available for Windows and Mac too.