The internet has broken down barriers to communication in ways that has never been seen before. Where previously calling friends and family could quickly break the bank if not restricted to short periods, today one can call up your nearest and dearest for a fraction of the cost – and if they’re on the internet, it can be free too! So this week, we’ll look at some of the different ways you can use technology to reach out and touch someone – beyond your everyday email.
Skype (www.skype.com) is the probably the best known internet telephony program. First released in 2003, there are now 42 million people using Skype on a day-to-day basis. Originally just a computer-to-computer system, Skype has grown now to the point where you can make calls not just to normal telephones but also receive calls via a normal phone number and even send text messages to cellphones around the globe. Skype also supports conference calling, so you can get your whole family in on the conversation. Additionally Skype supports video chat using a webcam on your PC, meaning you can not only talk but see the person on the other side of the world.
Of course, Skype isn’t the only option for talking to far remote places. There’s a range of instant messenger clients available that are ideal for long (and short) distance communication, including: Windows Live Messenger (messenger.live.com), Yahoo! Messenger (messenger.yahoo.com) and Google Talk (talk.google.com) – like many things on the web, the decision is often driven by what your friends and family use.