WhatsApp, one of the most popular messaging services on mobile, has long had plans to step up its assault against the likes of Skype and Viber with a free voice calling feature that was initially promised for the second quarter of 2014. Now the company’s CEO has confirmed that the launch is planned for early 2015 instead.
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.