Skype is one of the veteran video calling apps. It's been around before Facebook Messenger made its debut. Today, many apps are vying for our attention with features like calling, in-app games, emojis, payments, and more. Skype and Facebook Messenger top that list.
Skype, owned by Microsoft, offers free video and audio calling with the ability to call landlines and smartphones using paid credits anywhere in the world. It has a first mover advantage.
The Messenger has a large user base thanks to its close ties with the massive social media platform — Facebook. Messenger also allows users to play in-app games, make video and audio calls along with sending or receiving payments.
Both Skype and Messenger are present on a handful of platforms, but I will be using Android as a reference for this guide. If you have a Microsoft account, you can use it to log in to Skype or create a free account by downloading the app from Play Store. Similarly, if you have a Facebook account, which you probably do, you can use it to sign in to Messenger app. Both apps have a simple UI.
In Messenger, you can see a list of your online friends, search for them or tap on the camera icon to create a story.
Skype doesn’t have stories and sports a more professional feel. You can view people on your contacts list, tap on the call button to see recent calls or initiate a new one. The interface points out that Messenger focuses on chat while Skype is more focused on calls.
2. Messages, Games, Emojis
On Messenger, the first tab displays all the contacts while the second tab shows the contacts that are online. Just tap on the name to begin chatting. There is a shortcut called wave that is denoted by a hand. Click on it to send a hand shaped emoji that will animate the wave every few seconds.
In a chat, you can share saved images or click a new one and send voice messages. There is also the familiar Like button that we use on Facebook. What interested me was the menu icon represented by four dots.
You can use the available options to share location, play games, or even create plans for vacation. Then there are the third-party apps like Apple Music and Food Network that want to send you messages with related content such as recipes, new songs and albums, sports news and scores via the Score app and so on.
Skype is different. Usual features like sending text messages, audio messages and images are present. Its layout is pretty much similar. Skype allows up to 600 members in a group compared to Messenger which caps the group limit at 250. There are no third-party app integrations and no games either. Clicking on the ‘+’ icon reveals options to share files, contact details, location, and scheduling calls.
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Did I say no apps? Well, there are some if you scroll down a bit. Some of them are from Microsoft’s stable like Bing for searching, OneDrive for sharing files, and Microsoft To-Do to create lists. You can create polls to collect views and opinions, use TripAdvisor to find hotels and YouTube to share videos.
Skype takes a more focused approach where you can plan events, create polls, and work together towards a common goal. Messenger takes a more casual approach with games and other things — ideal if you want to pass the time or have a fun chat with contacts.
Messenger and Skype allow sending emojis, stickers, and GIFs. In Messenger, there is a live search for GIF, or you can tap on categories. Emojis are pretty much standard across all apps these days, aren’t they? Stickers also have a live search.
Tap on the ‘+’ icon to find the Sticker Store where you can download several sticker packs for free. There is also a featured section. I guess people love stickers though I am not a fan.
Skype also has its fair share of stickers and emoticons. There is also a tab for mojis, that is just a different name for GIFs. As always, there is some overlap. You can use Bing or Giphy to send even more GIFs.
3. Voice and Video Calls
Skype is very straightforward. You can see an option to make voice and video calls under the Calls tab or open a contact to initiate a call. To make a group call, tap on the ‘+’ icon with a receiver. You can call up to 25 people in a group call. Also, you can call regular phone numbers by tapping the keypad icon. That makes Skype very useful for travelers who need to stay connected with clients and customers. You can also record calls.
Note: Recording calls without the explicit permission of the other person is unethical, and even considered illegal in certain countries. Make sure you know the law of that land before you record a call.
To initiate a call on Messenger, you need to open the chat window — no shortcuts on the contact screen. On the plus side, you can start groups calls with up to 50 members. However, you can’t call regular landline numbers or the mobile numbers that aren't synced with Messenger.
4. Privacy and Security
Skype chat and audio calls support end-to-end encryption by using the popular Signal Protocol. However, the option is switched off by default. You will need to select Private Conversation from the user’s profile after which you will wait for the user to accept your request.
Messenger taking a similar route doesn’t offer end-to-end encryption by default. You will have to select Secret Conversation from the profile to initiate it, but there's a catch. Skype encrypts messages from the sender's device to the receiver.
In Messenger, Facebook encrypts from the sender’s device to Facebook servers, and from Facebook servers to the receiver’s device. So why are the messages not encrypted on Facebook servers?
Facebook has been under a lot of heat since the Cambridge Analytica scandal hit the headlines in 2018. I would suggest you refrain from sharing sensitive messages via Messenger even though Facebook promises that they take user privacy and security seriously.
5. Platform and Pricing
Messenger is available on the web, and smartphones running Android or iOS. That is very limiting since Skype is also available on Windows, macOS, web, iOS, and Android.
Both apps are free to use. Since Skype allows users to make calls to regular mobile and landline numbers, it carries a credit system. While rates differ from country to country, it is usually around 2.3 cents per minute along with a 4.9 cent connection fee. Others can also call you on your Skype number which is unique. You can either pay-as-you-go or buy a subscription.
Skype also works with the Xbox gaming platform and Amazon's Echo line of AI-powered smart speakers.
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Messenger vs. Skype
If you want to have fun while chatting, play games, and follow apps that share similar interests with you, Messenger is your best bet. However, if you seek an app for work with the ability to make international calls, plan trips and meetings, Skype is more suitable for that.
Next up: Not sure what is the difference between Facebook Story and Messenger Story? Learn the difference by clicking on the link below.