Travel Apps I actually use…
I am going to be writing a short series on travel apps. No, it will not be a list of the apps I think are best. Rather, it will be an introduction to the apps I actually use, and why they work for me when traveling internationally. The only thing that may govern the ‘order’ in which I share them might be how much I use or like them.
If you don’t like paying outrageous fees for text and phone calls while you are traveling you may want to consider the Viber app. Viber is offered for free in the app store and allows you to send texts and share both photos and videos with friends and family. With Viber you can make VoIP calls using 3G, 4G, LTE, or wi-fi. Wi-Fi seems to offer the best connectivity, although I have had no complaints using it on my 4G iPhone.
Download is quick and set up is a simple process because Viber searches your Contact data in order to find the people in your list who also use Viber. Viber can only be used with others who also have downloaded the app. Some consider this a drawback, but I rather like it. I feel that if there is someone not in my contact list already using the program, I can just ask them if they would like to try it. I use it primarily to stay in touch with home.
Calls aren’t handled by your regular carrier, but are routed through Viber’s VoIP network. This means that there might be some latency issues with your call. I have only experienced this when my reception is a bit dodgy to begin with. Remember that when you’re not connected to Wi-Fi, a Viber call will count towards your data plan but will still more than likely cost a lot less than a regular call – particularly if you are calling other countries.
Viber’s attempt to stand out from the traditional phone experience involves it’s promotion and use stickers in text messages. Not only can you send photos, videos, locations, smileys (and other emoticons),but you can share large Viber-made “stickers.” Some stickers are free however some come with a price tag.
Viber founder Talmon Marco stresses the security of the app. He says:…Viber does not “have the capability to listen to conversations”. Messages are stored, for two weeks or until they are opened by the recipient, whichever is shorter. Around 80% are deleted in less than a second. The messages are encrypted, and Marco says he has never handed the encryption key to any government.
I really like the fact that when I am using Viber for messaging, the visual looks just the same as on my iPhone making it simple to navigate. Some of the features include a navigation bar at the bottom with buttons for Messages, Recents, Contacts, and More. The More button allows you to invite friends to Viber and adjust other settings, such as automatic photo save to your Camera Roll and being able to turn notifications off.
So, if you are looking for an inexpensive (free) and reliable way to stay in touch while you are away traveling, you just might want to grab on to the Viber App.