Everyone loves to receive a handwritten letter, it’s personal, and there’s always that excitement when you get something through your letterbox that isn’t bills or junk. However with more of our relatives and friends living further away, post can take weeks rather than days to arrive, plus hearing about your grandchildren starting to walk isn’t quite the same as being able to see it. Getting online really does help make your life easier in this respect. Here Matt Powell, the editor from Broadband Genie, has some advice for you about the simple and fun ways to connect with people over the internet.
The days of expensive, long distance phone calls to relatives living overseas are largely a thing of the past now that free video calling is such an uncomplicated option. The lovely thing about using this kind of web contact is that you can actually see the person you are speaking to live; the next best thing to being with them and it won’t cost you a penny!
The most popular video calling service is Skype; you just need an internet connection so it’s easy to use it on your desktop or laptop, and you can also download the app onto your smartphone or tablet, so you can take it with you wherever you go. You can chat to one person or set up a group video chat – perfect if you’ve got friends or family scattered about in different places – and if you’re feeling camera shy you can choose the audio call setting instead.
Skype lets you upload files of any size so you can send and receive videos, photos and documents instantly, so your family can share those snaps they’ve been taking throughout the week. There’s also an instant messenger function for quick conversations.
Apple has their own version of Skype - an app called FaceTime which you can use if you have an iPhone, a Mac, an iPod Touch or an iPad. This works either over Wi-Fi or your phone’s mobile network. It doesn’t have the facility to send files but you can use iMessage on Apple mobile devices for that. It also has an instant messenger and video calling service for Macs called iChat.
Another popular choice is WhatsApp, a text and voice call app with over half a billion users worldwide that lets you send messages and make voice calls for free to anybody in your smartphone’s contact list who is also on there. Like Skype you can share pictures and set up group chats and you can even send 100 free messages a month to friends who aren’t on the app.
All these internet communication tools are really straightforward to install and use – search your app store to find them and follow their step-by-step guides to getting started, or ask your friends and family for help. It will literally take a matter of minutes before you can be talking face-to-face with your family and friends all over the world. They can help you keep in touch with those you love, easily and, more importantly, for free!