The internet has revolutionised long distance wireless communication, resulting in swift information exchange and unimaginably quick data transfer. With the advent of email and the eventual development of individual messenger services by different companies, the idea of communicating and later socialising through the internet became popular. Subsequently, social networking sites emerged to further the vision of a boundless virtual society. Yet, it was still not possible to actually talk to another person or see him as these websites merely offered data upload features, or in some cases, a real time text chat service. In order to complete the online socialising experience, a new communication protocol known as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) was introduced. Users were able to get hold of other users within their contact list and could engage in voice calls, just as someone would do over a phone. And it was mostly free and could be done from any part of the world where you had an internet connection. Later on, VoIP services introduced video along with voice to make the experience even more dynamic. With time, vendors added conference calls, video conferencing, call transfer to actual cellphones, VoIP utilities dedicated for cell phones, and much more. Below are listed a few of the top VoIP software and their features to help you make an informed choice:
Usually, the first VoIP server that comes to mind is Skype. One of the oldest, most trusted and widely used, Skype, started in 2003, currently has over 31 million active users. With a very basic interface, Skype requires a user ID, created on filling a single page form, which enables you to add friends who also own a Skype ID. You can then voice call, video call and conference call for free. It also has a premium version that allows video conferencing. Just make sure you also have an internet connection good enough handle several users simultaneously! In addition, Skype offers a file-sending feature as well as screen share and your personal voicemail. Very recently, a merger with Facebook has allowed its users to video call other Facebook friends directly from its chat window by clicking on the video icon at the top right. This feature does not require Facebook users to have Skype IDs or Skype installed but they will have to install a miniature Facebook Video Calling Plugin initially. Lately, Skype has added brand new features for transferring calls to your cell phones or calling cell phones directly from Skype (available only for premium users) too. Embracing the multi-platform discipline, Skype is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS (iPhone/iTouch), Symbian and Android.
Gtalk that had microphone-handling capabilities and with Google Voice and Video added to their arsenal, Google had claimed a firm grasp over the online voice chat industry. It had also introduced free calling services to phones in the US and Canada until last year, which was a big hit. Now, phone calling features come at very cheap rates. And Google Plus has introduced exciting ways to chat by including group video sessions for customised user defined groups.
A growing name in the VoIP sector is Viber—developed by Viber Media Inc. Changing the face of how VoIP clients work, this phone-based app relies on your cell contact list and nothing more. Gone are the days when you had to create user IDs or skim through your Facebook contacts to search for friends or keep adding contacts. Viber takes care of all this. Firstly, to tackle the issue of your user identification, it simply uses your phone number as your ID. Then for all the contacts you have on your phone, it uses their numbers as their ID. All you need to do is keep the app running in the background. For those contacts who have Viber on, a purple dot will appear right next to their names and you can simply call the other person like you would from your SIM, but for free using Wi-Fi or a 3G data plan. Make sure, however, that you own an iPhone, Android, Windows Phone or a Blackberry.
Yahoo or Hotmail. Yahoo brings PC- to-PC calling—an exclusive feature and a very popular one today. With the voice calling service, Yahoo users can communicate with other online Yahoo users. The experience is very much the same as chatting; the only upgrade is that now you no longer require a keyboard. On the plus side, the audio quality that Yahoo offers is impressive, with voice clarity and noise cancellation ranked high amongst single-protocol IM clients. The only trouble that some might encounter is failing to create a connection due to firewall issues. It is a similar story with MSN. With terrific audio quality and unabridged audio chat experience, Hotmail/Windows Live account owners can benefit from this feature to talk to their contacts. Both these messengers have video features and nowadays, users of Yahoo can communicate with Hotmail/Live users.
Of course VoIP is equally important for the gamer. With millions of games being played online and most of them being multiplayer ones, a proper communication utility is always welcome. To meet these demands, there is a lightweight application known as Ventrilo. This low-latency voice chat application offers in-game chat so that gamers can interact with teammates while a game is in progress. Unlike a peer to peer service, the client-server architecture offers calls for efficient and multiple client based chatting. Many game hosting providers now provide a dedicated Ventrilo server for voice communication.
If you thought Ventrilo was the only solution to your non-interactive gaming experience then you might want to try Mumble first. The open source voice chat application is optimised for uninterrupted game play and low latency. With its positional audio feature, it makes the incoming sounds come from the specific direction of the player speaking. Likewise, its other features such as game linking, echo cancellation and game integration make Mumble a gamer favourite. Newer games integrated with Mumble enable 3D sound to other players too.
Source: The Kathmandu Post