With the amount of features embedded in today’s third party messaging apps, you might wonder whether voice and text are even necessary. Or more importantly, whether they’re truly worth your money. After taking a look at the best OTT apps on the market, here’s what we’ve found to be the most compelling reasons this just might be true.
Voice Calls Over Data
Yes, this technology has been out for a while via Skype, but ever since Viber, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, and BBM adapted and modified their own versions, the quality has improved quite a bit. The experience itself completely mocks that of voice calls, and even allows users to call from app to phone (for all your friends who aren’t in the OTT know). Another interesting observation is that each platform tends to attract a unique market. For instance, Viber is huge in Japan, whereas Facebook Messenger keeps U.S. college alumni connected. Plus we can’t forget about WhatsApp‘s massive 450 million user base. It looks like that expensive acquisition was well worth it, Facebook.
The core feature of all OTT apps – messaging – is not to be understated. Unlike typical SMS, OTT messaging has a tremendous amount of additional benefits. Features like voice notes, photos, group chats, location sharing, and even language translation, are all lacking in stand alone SMS. And of course you end up with a separate SMS bill in addition to your data. Why would someone opt for fewer messaging features and two separate bills?
With OTT, borders are irrelevant when you use data to reach friends half way around the world. As long as you’re on your domestic provider, it shouldn’t cost anything extra to send an OTT message because you’re using data just like any other app (Words with Friends, Instagram). If you did this via SMS, you’d end up billed at roaming rates, meaning one text could cost upwards of 35 cents! Be smart and refrain from the self-induced billshock.
Multi Device Conversation Syncing
While SMS is limited to just your smartphone, some OTT apps allow for conversation syncing across multiple devices. Skype has been doing a pretty good job at this for years, and now Viber has followed suit with their own desktop app. With this type of feature users can focus on the actual conversation, instead the device they’re on. And because it syncs conversation history in real-time, recipients won’t know you’ve switched from tablet, to desktop, to phone. How convenient!
With all things considered, it’s easy to conclude OTT features are up to par, if not better than typical voice and text. And as time goes on they’ll be less of a need for traditional communication. We’ll just have to wait and watch for those data only plans to pop up!