Another piece of software that many love to hate, Skype has made a great effort in recent years to become as light and easy to use as other VoIP apps. The current version looks fine and works pretty well, as well as offering lots of interesting features that really aren’t always available on other, similar apps. If you need a tool to make calls online, Skype’s certainly a genuine option with lots to offer a certain kind of user.
VoIP with some nice features, but Skype’s got a long road to go
This classic calling app will struggle to attract new users.Skype’s an internet classic and a program that revolutionized telephone calls for many. Like many old-school apps, though, it gained a lot of bloat and a bad reputation as other, faster apps came on the market. In recent years, Microsoft’s classic has made real attempts to slim down and speed up, but unfortunately, it still leaves us a little cold.
Visually, Skype is acceptable and functional. Nobody will argue that it’s beautiful, but it’s clear to see what you need to do and relatively easy to find your way around the functions. The options aren’t great - the format is very traditional and we’ve seen better ways of dealing with settings in 2019. Skype would be much improved by making them more clear and user-friendly.
The main function of Skype is internet calling and video. It does both without issue but, of course, everything depends on the quality of your internet connection. Our main issue is with the ease of setting up and connecting calls, which can be frustrating and fruitless. Contacts are hard to find, calls don’t connect, and small settings problems consistently plague less tech-savvy users.
Microsoft has attempted to give Skype an edge by offering a variety of additional services that might be of interest. You can add subtitles to calls, for example, share the screen (helpful for those less-techy relatives), or record your calls. You can also buy Skype credit, to call non-Skype numbers, or even (in some parts of the world) set up a Skype landline, which looks like a local number but connects to your Skype account.
All of these features are interesting and, to some users, really useful. The overall usability of Skype depends hugely on the quality of your internet connection. If it’s patchy or not good, using the app will be challenging. If you’re blessed with good internet and, especially if some of the extra features are useful to you personally, you’re likely to have a decent calling experience with Skype.
Where can you run this program?
Skype is available for pretty much any platform you can imagine, including xBox and Alexa. This version is for Windows.
Is there a better alternative?
There are lots of alternatives, but not all are standalone VoIP apps like Skype. Many users would use video calling on messaging apps as an alternative, or even the messaging function on social networks like Facebook. In terms of completeness, you’re unlikely to get the same number of features and long history of use offered by Skype but, if you personally don’t need the extras, this won’t be a problem.
There’s nothing very wrong with Skype, but we struggle to be too enthusiastic about it. Many users will now take care of their calling and video calling needs via other apps, so if there’s no need to use Skype and the Skype-specific features it offers aren’t a major draw to you, then we don’t think you’re likely to move.
In some geographic areas, the choice you have for video calling might be very much more limited and, in a situation like that, if Skype is an option, we understand why you’d choose it - more often than not, it works. The same goes for certain users who are used to Skype and unwilling to change, and you may want to use the app yourself if you have to talk to someone like this on a regular basis.
Other than that, however, and especially if your internet is less than perfect, we don’t see a reason why anyone would give up their lighter, more mobile modern messaging apps for Skype.
Should you download it?
If location, family, or the special features dictate it, Skype is an okay app and worth a try. If you have an alternative or your internet isn’t great, however, we’d give it a miss.