3 Must-Have Mobile Apps For The Roaming Traveller

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WhatsApp, Viber and Skype mobile apps come in handy when you are travelling abroad and want to minimise your calling costs that tend to be extremely high due to roaming charges.

WhatsApp, Viber and Skype mobile apps come in handy when you are travelling abroad and want to minimise your calling costs that tend to be extremely high due to roaming charges.

Technology is continuously evolving and as it metamorphoses into a more sophisticated ‘creature’, it keeps churning out ever more robust and handy aides that just go that extra mile to make life all the more easier and bearable for the modern day roaming traveller (of course you know God finally is the only one who calls the shots here more than anyone else). I have in mind here communication.

This begins to become clearer when one reflects back on the challenges they have faced in the past as they trotted across the globe when the need to keep in touch with family, friends and business associates in the backdrop of an ever nagging problem of roaming charges on most local mobile platforms became a near impossibility.

There are days I recall, when I exhausted all my planned airtime for the week in a few minutes overseas while talking to family. That meant i remained cut-off stranded for the rest of the time abroad.

Today with the advent of the Android mobile operating system and a robust community of application developers on that platform, we are spoilt for choice on the array of cheap and, often times, free communication alternatives at our disposal.

Through experience, i have come to rely on the following 3 free communications which saved me on numerous occasions. All I needed to use them was a good, free Wifi access point which never lacked in any hotel I stayed.

WhatsApp®

WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. WhatsApp Messenger is available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia. Because WhatsApp Messenger uses the same internet data plan that you use for email and web browsing, there is no additional cost to message and stay in touch with your friends.

In addition to basic messaging WhatsApp users can create groups, send each other unlimited images, video and audio media messages. WhatsApp boasts a whopping 300 million monthly active users (AllThingsD.com).

Viber®

Viber, like Whatsapp, uses the internet to allow its more than 200 million active users across 193 countries (Viber.com) to send free messages and make free calls to other Viber users, on any device and network.

Once you install Viber on your handset, it syncs your contacts, messages and call history with your device, so you can start the conversation on the Viber mobile application and continue from the comfort of your PC.

Viber users can send free text messages, photo messages, video messages and share locations with other users. Users can also make free HD-quality calls to other Viber users on iPhone®, Android™, Windows Phone, Blackberry®, Windows®, Mac, Symbian, Nokia S40 and Bada devices over 3G/4G or WiFi connections.

Skype®

Founded in 2003 and head quartered in Luxembourg, Skype, now owned by Microsoft, boasted a staggering 663 million registered users by the end of 2010 (Wikipedia). Skype, like the other two, is a multi-platform application that also supports free Skype to Skype text, voice and video from anywhere as long as there is internet.

The latest version of Skype supports group video. For a small fee, you can enjoy a whole range of extra features on this app such as the ability to call phones, access WiFi or send texts.

With these 3 apps on your phone, you can never go wrong with keeping in touch with those dear to you. I also thought I should mention a few preconditions to enable you maximise on these apps:

  • You will need to have an internet connection. Since most internet bundles provided by mobile service providers in the country are subject to the same rules of roaming charges, I suggest you hook up to a Wifi service. Most hotels now provide free internet to their guests – you just need to ask for the password at the reception.
  • The person you are texting, instant messaging or calling also needs to have the software installed on their phone to enjoy the free service otherwise you may have to subscribe to their premium services which are also not that expensive to complete such communication.

 

So now you know the secret. Do not forget to share your experience using any of these apps. You can also try Line Free Calls, Kakao Talk, TextPlus and Tango, just for comparison. Looking forward to your feedback.

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About Henry Muuthia

Henry Muuthia is a travel writer and photographer. He writes for a range of online platforms including Technorati, Google+, EzineArticles and ArticleBase where he has published several articles, mostly on Kenyan travel. He is a resident writer for Enchanted Landscapes Travelogue and also occasionally writes for the travel section of Nakumatt''s SmartLife Magazine.
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2 Responses to 3 Must-Have Mobile Apps For The Roaming Traveller

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    Thanks Thomas for this. Actually as of today (06/11/2013) on the Google Play Store, the app is reported to have 300 million users subscribed.

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    Tencent’s WeChat is also another upcoming mobile app causing ripples in the mobile application market and giving platforms like FaceBook sleepless nights. The Chinese-based company recently announced that WeChat’s users have almost tripled from the 85 million of the year before – that means 255 million users! This is definitely an app to watch and to have for any traveller needing to communicate on the go.

    WeChat users using the messaging service can use the “hold-to-talk” feature and send free walkie-talkie style messages that bypass the need for voicemail.

    It has some amazing discovery features that can connect users locally and across continents. For instance, by shaking your handset, you can be able to connect to other users worldwide who are shaking their handsets at the same time or as you walk around, it keeps popping up new users nearby you may want to connect with. Its awesome!

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