When you’re looking for a way to communicate with your friends online, Skype is probably the first thing you’ll be directed to. It’s a minimalist little app for your PC or phone that does exactly what you’d expect it to do. Plug in a headset and video chat with a friend, or omit video chatting altogether if you want to use it for gaming.
The thing about Skype is that you get what you pay for – which in this case, is nothing at all.
Often, the software is clunky and slow, taking several minutes just to reach the login screen. It’s even more of a pain to shut it down, which seems to take much longer than one might expect. Ever had that moment where you wonder why it takes so much longer to end something than to start it? It applies to Skype in several ways.
There’s also an issue with Skype’s new advertising component. As if we didn’t have anything better to do, now we’re subjected to random ads from a number of companies during our calls.
“While on a 1:1 audio call, users will see content that could spark additional topics of conversation that are relevant to Skype users and highlight unique and local brand experiences. So, you should think of Conversation Ads as a way for Skype to generate fun interactivity between your circle of friends and family and the brands you care about. Ultimately, we believe this will help make Skype a more engaging and useful place to have your conversations each and every day.”
You read that correctly. Skype is under the very, very, poor assumption that most people will drop a conversation they’re already engaged in to start chattering about Quilted Northern. Would it have been so difficult to say, “We need ads for money” and be done with it?
In addition to poor call quality, dropped calls, and constant freezing up just because it feels like it, Skype’s had several dangerous shortcomings in the past. To name a few: a location-exposing vulnerability , swallowing bandwidth like a starving animal, and a previously removed DRM snoop agent.
Fortunately, there are a number of alternatives to Skype if you’re looking for a solution with less of a hassle to chat with friends online. They have a long way to go before achieving perfection, but they won’t find it if they continue to ignore what needs to be fixed.