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The 5 best alternative free video chat apps

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal | May 31, 2013
No Facetime, Google Hangouts, or Skype? These third-party services pick up where the big-name chatting solutions leave off.

The good thing about Tango is that it's all free and unlimited—video chats and voice calls use your phone's data connection, so you don't have to worry about using up your minutes (though you do have to worry about using up your phone's data connection). The bad thing is that it only works with other Tango users (so no cross-platform chatting with WP8). It also lack an option to purchase minutes for calling cellphones or landlines that do not have Tango installed.

While Tango has a few nice features, some of them cost extra. Though the video chat feature is the star of the show, Tango's regular chat is pretty neat too. In the regular chat you can share photos, videos, and voice recordings, and you can add multiple people (though you can't video chat with multiple people). Tango also has a store where you can purchase mini-games such as darts, reverse, and tic-tac-toe, which you can then play with other people during a video chat.

Fring—iOS, Android
On the surface, Fring is similar to the other video chat apps we've covered so far: It offers free, unlimited video chats, voice calls, and instant messages to other Fring users. But its real advantage is when you start making paid phone calls (also known as "FringOUT" calls) to cellphones and landlines around the world. Fring has one of the cheapest rate systems available, starting at just 1 cent per minute.

To call U.S. landlines and cellphones, Fring charges 1.2 cents per minute. By comparison, ooVoo charges 1.8 cents per minute, and Skype charges 2.3 cents per minute (though, to be fair, Skype does offer a subscription rate of $2.99/month). Of course, before you decide which service to use you'll want to check out which countries you'll be calling most often—Fring isn't the cheapest for all countries. For example, Fring charges 3.7 cents to call to a Japanese landline, while ooVoo charges 2.1 cents (and Skype charges 2.6 cents).

Fring also offers group video chatting (up to four people at one time). The biggest drawback of Fring is that you do need a phone number to set it up—the service sends a text to your number to verify that it's yours. So iPod Touch users will need to use a phone number that can receive texts and that's not associated with any other Fring account.

Camfrog— iOS, Android
Nobody to video chat with? Instead of chatting with friends and family, try chatting with total strangers on Camfrog. Camfrog is a free video chat app available for iOS, Android, and Windows Mobile users, as well as PC and Mac users. This app lets you find people to talk to—you can either join a public Camfrog chat room, or look someone up by username and chat with them privately.


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