It’s an iOS messaging shootout! Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
I recently watched The Lady try to convince a friend of ours to download WhatsApp. The friend is moving to the United Kingdom, and we want to stay in touch. Our friend tried to say that email would do the job, but we all know that will never work.
Our friend doesn’t want WhatsApp (maybe because it’s owned by Facebook), and she doesn’t own an iPhone, so iMessage is out. Thankfully, there are plenty of free and good alternatives. Some are more secure, some have more features, and none of them is owned by Facebook.
Let’s take a look at what’s available and how these very different messaging apps compare on a number of key features.
Yesterday Skype announced a major redesign of its iPhone app that was scheduled to hit the App Store sometime next week. For some reason the update is already available. It packs several new features that are designed to make the app easier to use.
Universal translators are a common trope in science fiction. In The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, they come in the form of the babelfish, a tiny crustacean you jam in your ear. In Farscape, they are bacteria injected into your body. In Star Trek, they take a less squishy form as a wand or tiny computer pinned to your lapel.
In all incarnations, though, a universal communicator is seen as alien and futuristic. But Microsoft wants to change all that. The Washington-based company has just revealed a new real-time speech translation tool that is set to be built right into Skype, and which can translate any foreign language into English in the blink of an eye.
This time on The CultCast: rumored new EarPods take your pulse and more; updated Macbook Airs get faster and cheaper; a leaked “iPhone 6’ case indicates an iPod-inspired design; Google takes on Office with new iOS apps for Drive; we ponder the state of the iPod; and we pitch our favorite tech and apps then vote on which is best… it’s an all new Faves N Raves!
Have a few chuckles while we catch you up on each week’s best Apple stories! Stream or download new and past episodes of The CultCast now on your Mac or iDevice by subscribing on iTunes, or hit play below and let the audio adventure begin!
And thanks to Lynda.com for sponsoring this episode! Learn at your own pace from expert-taught video tutorials at Lynda.com.
It has been a long time coming. Today Skype finally made group video calling a free feature for users on the Mac, Windows, and Xbox One. iOS is left out of the initial mix, but Skype says that it will be adding free group video to more platforms in the future.
Immensely popular cross-platform messaging service WhatsApp is gearing up to take on Skype with voice-over-IP (VoIP) calling — and these are the screenshots that prove it. The feature will have a similar interface as the built-in Phone app, and it boasts features like speaker phone and muting.
Today Skype updated its iPhone and iPad apps with two-way HD video calling. The enhanced resolution is only available on the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and Retina iPad mini.
Chatting over text has gotten much better with today’s release. Skype has integrated with Apple’s Notification Center to show incoming messages even when the app is closed. In the past, Skype had to still be running in the background for push notifications to work. Group chats will be receiving the same upgrade in a future update.
BBM has been a huge success on Android and iOS, and so although they may be rival platforms, that won’t stop BlackBerry from porting over its biggest and best BBM features to keep its messaging service alive.
In 2014, the Canadian company will rollout major updates that add BBM Channels, BBM Voice, and new sharing features — and you can see them in action in the video below.
Viber, the hugely popular cross-platform messaging service, now offers low-cost calls to mobile phones and landlines worldwide as part of a new service called Viber Out. It’s available on Android, iOS, and though the Viber desktop client, and it boasts call fees substantially cheaper than Skype’s.