| By Katherine Murray |
If you enjoyed spending time with family and friends over the holidays and are looking for good ways to keep in direct contact, look to the Web for free services.
When an e-mail or Facebook post just won’t do, here are popular voice/video-communication tools worth trying out.
Skype sets a high standard for services
You might be acquainted with Skype, the free online service you can use to make calls from your computer to someone else’s. People all over the world use Skype for low- and no-cost talking in real time. You can use it for voice or video calls. If you don’t mind paying a little bit for your calls, you can use it to call land-line and mobile phones, too.
Skype is available for Mac, Windows, Windows Mobile, Linux, iPads, iPhones, and Android phones. You can have free audio or video chats with anyone in the world who is also using Skype. A dependable Internet connection is useful if you want to avoid repeated disconnections while you’re trying to talk. The only extra equipment you really need is a headset — and a webcam, if you want to see each other while you chat.
With Skype you can not only chat with others but also share what’s on your screen while you talk. (See Figure 1.) If you’re watching a movie or have a photo or article or some other item you want to show the person you’re chatting with, you can click Share and then choose the display you want to share. Skype puts the content into the chat window so whoever’s on the other end of the line can view it, too.
Figure 1. You can share your screen while video-chatting in Skype.