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Stay in touch with surprisingly convenient messaging apps

[ This sponsored article was written by IDG Creative Lab, a partner of PCWorld, and not by PCWorld's editorial staff. ]

We all wish we could stay in closer contact with friends and family – but some of us have our contacts spread out a little farther than others. If you’re making calls from Chicago to Canada to Cabo San Lucas, you know how quickly you can eat up the minutes on your mobile plan. That’s where an Intel-powered 2 in 1 or tablet device saves the day. With plenty of power and a world of apps at your command, it’s easy stay in touch without breaking the bank.

Skype: A good place to start

Many people like Skype, which provides video chat across multiple platforms to many devices, using the microphone and webcam. Skype is available as a mobile app as well as a desktop application, so it can be used on any laptop, tablet, or smartphone. While calls to other Skype users are free, calls to landlines and mobile lines do incur a charge.

What’s App?: The group option

Skype is far from the only option – there are plenty of apps that help you communicate with family, or set up group chats with friends or coworkers, even if everyone has a different device. What’s App? Is a popular app available for Android tablets like the Dell Venue 7, and for Windows laptops like the Dell XPS 11. Just download it from the appropriate app store and create a membership. What’s App? members can send each other messages, photos, videos, or voice messages, as well as sending your location on a map. It uses your Internet connection, 3G, or Wi-Fi connection to avoid extra charges.  

Viber: An emoji heavy contender

An app that’s likely to be popular with younger users, Viber also provides text, video, and photo messages worldwide over WiFi for free. Calls to non-Viber mobile and landline numbers, like Skype, incur a charge at a low rate. Viber is optimized for use on Android tablets, and Viber worked closely with Microsoft to provide a stellar experience on Windows 8 devices as well. Viber is noteworthy for the emoji and stickers included in the app, which are likely to appeal to the younger folks on your contact list.

JoinMe: The professional option

If you’re looking to keep contact with coworkers while traveling, consider the JoinMe app, which is available on Android and Windows devices and as an Amazon app. From the makers of the well-liked LogMeIn service, JoinMe connects a group of people in just a few clicks – and it’s available via the JoinMe web page too. Designed to be an effortless way to start a meeting, all you need to do is download the app, then open it. You’ll see an orange toolbar which means you’re now sharing your screen – including the text box where you communicate with meeting participants.

Looking for more?

If none of those seem quite right, don’t worry: there are plenty more!

Line is another instant messaging and free voice calling app that has a robust emoji menu, and it’s favored by users overseas so it’s great for travelers. Meanwhile, Telegram is a messaging app focused on security – it lets you create group chats with up to 200 people, share videos up to 1GB, send multiple photos, and even has Secret Chats where both ends of the conversation are encrypted so only the intended recipient can view the messages. And GroupMe is yet another group chat app available across Windows 8 and Android platforms making it easy to keep in touch with friends regularly.

Take any of these apps for a spin and in no time your tablet or laptop is going to be making more phone calls than your mobile or landline, opening up your options and shutting down those exorbitant bills.

[ This sponsored article was written by IDG Creative Lab, a partner of PCWorld, and not by PCWorld's editorial staff. ]

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