I recently posted an answer to a question on Quora where I shared my opinions on the differences between Skype and Viber. The Question was as straight forward as can be “How does Viber compare to Skype?”. My comparison between these two will be touching on the voice and address book usage, not on video and text features (currently not available in Viber). I will mostly talk about Viber since the features I like in that app are related to the ones I don’t like that much in Skype. Read on for more details, screenshots and the exciting conclusion…
Viber feels more integrated with the OS
Viber to me feels way more integrated with the OS compared to Skype. I can almost always reach someone who just has the Viber app installed, not having to worry about being logged in our having the app running in the background on the iPhone. With Skype this feels like a constant issue.
How Viber interacts with the address book in your iPhone is really transparent. You get a small icon (see image to the right) next to your contact if they have Viber installed. Plus when a new contact joins Viber you recieve a small popup notification saying that the new contact is now available for free calls. It is a small feature, but I like it, it’s like watching a virus (oh oh, virus and privacy in the same article ;)) spread through your address book.
There are some really cool uses for an app like Viber, especially if you travel alot and want to avoid expensive roaming charges. Preferrably you hook up to the hotel WiFi and fire up Viber to make calls to your fellow Viber contacts. This is when Viber works the best, when on WiFi. On 3G it can be very unstable, something that perhaps is in the whole nature of 3G so there are no real surprises here.
Viber and the privacy of your calls and contacts
The above reason with the 3G being unstable and the fact that I am on an unlimited plan in my home country makes me not use it that much when I am home. It is mostly used when my Viber contacts call me, just because they are not on an unlimited plan. I am also a little bit sceptic about the privacy of these types of apps as with most new applications that send your private info through their own servers, you never know if they’ll be around for long, what will happen with your info then?
This sceptiscism is not limited to the voice applications but I’ve also thought about it when it comes to the free text (SMS) message apps such as WhatsApp. Viber themselves swear that our information is secure and in this thread on Quora they stated the following:
Viber collects users’ information not because we are curious of its content, but purely for functional reasons, and for us to enable the service we, as a company, promise to provide. If we promise an easy, no-registration service, then this is the only mechanism that achieves this goal. This is not different from any other major social network/communication service provider in our world today (I’m sure you can imagine who I refer to). -Ittai Madar
Fair enough, this is what makes the registration process so simple and that is what most people want. If you use it like I do, as a backup and secondary way to communicate when abroad, you should be alright I suppose.
Skype has more features compared to Viber
So, compared to Skype, is there really nothing that Skype doesn’t do better? Yes! Mind you, in this article I have been mostly comparing the voice features of these two apps. Skype has a whole set of features that Viber doesn’t have, including video chat, text chat (Viber will get text messaging soon apparently) and more.
Another difference between Viber and Skype is that Viber lacks a desktop client, limiting your communications to those with an iPhone only. This is where Skype excells, it is a complete communications suite and Viber is not. With Skype you can phone your grandma who’s sitting at the computer, from your phone. But since this article is comparing two iPhone apps and their voice capabilities and usabilities on the iOS platform, I would say Viber wins hands down and that is mostly due to its ease of use and integration with your existing address book!