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Stay On The Grid: Text & Video Chat While Out Of The Country

Spring is almost here…and it couldn’t come soon enough!  With spring comes spring break! Perhaps you or your kids are traveling to other countries this spring (or summer) and you want to keep up with the folks back home. You’re not going to pick up the hotel room phone ($$$), or a public phone (blechhhh!) Your best bet is texting or video chat.

You have a number of options.  First, if you are communicating to another iOS device you can simply use the Messages App or FaceTime to communicate.  If you are communicating between device platforms (iPhone to Android, or iPhone to PC), then you’ll need an App like Skype, Viber or KaKao Talk.



The Skype platform has been around the longest.  It’s a great tool that allows you to communicate with others using Skype across platforms.  You can Skype with someone from a PC to a Mac, or an Android to a PC, or a Mac to an Android.  You get the picture.   It also works on the iPhone and iPad.    Skyping is free, so long as you are connected to a wireless network.  If you try and Skype from an iPhone in Mexico to an iPhone in Beijing, and neither of you are connected to wireless, your data charges from your carrier may not bankrupt you but they will be costly!  So make certain that you are connected to a wireless network, so when you Skype with someone, anyone, anywhere in the world, its FREE!  Now Skype also let’s you call land lines anywhere in the world.  There are charges for that, and I recommend you visit to make yourself aware of those charges.


Ok, moving on.  The next App I’m going to discuss is Viber.


Viber is a popular app with the younger crowd (teens and 20-somethings).  Viber provides basically the same service as Skype.  It’s a cross-platform communication app (tool).  It let’s you communicate to other Viber users for free, IF you are on connected to a wireless network.  If you are using your 3G or LTE connection, you WILL have data charges for using Viber.  Again is you are going out of the country, PLEASE make sure prior to using Viber that you have connected to a wireless network.  Otherwise your data charge(s) will be considerable, and your parents will get upset with you!


KaKao Talk is another in a line of communication Apps, offering the similar services as Viber and Skype.  For the younger crowd it has some cool emojis that you can use.


All of these Apps are great tools to communicate across platform.  If you are communicating within Platform (Apple), I highly recommend using the Apple tools:  iMessage (Message App on your iPhone/iPad) and FaceTime.  iMessage offers end to end encryption for messaging, and FaceTime offers crystal clear video and now audio.  iMessage and FaceTime CAN be FREE (between countries), if you are in a wireless network. They are ALWAYS free within the United States (wireless or data).

Real life story…Last summer my daughter was in Israel.  While on a Kibbutz (and connected to their wireless network) she FaceTimed me (many times).  You know how much it cost me?  ZERO.  How awesome is that!! A video call, between countries for more than 20 minutes, for FREE!!  Because she listened to dad, turned her cellular off and connected to wi-fi…good kid!

So parents you have some good options to communicate with your kids while they are out of the country this spring break (and anytime for that matter), you just need to make them aware of shortcomings (not using wireless).

Enjoy the warm weather, enjoy spring break, keep the kids (and yourself) on wi-fi while out of the country!

Until next time, best to you and your devices!

About Geoff Horwitz

Geoff Horwitz, The MacMentor, is a computer technology guru. He has wealth of experience and expertise not only in Apple technology but in computing needs in general. Geoff has spent more than 20 years consulting for big businesses, most recently with Apple. He began his own successful business after he realized that there was a real need and demand for quality consulting and training on a smaller but much more gratifying scale. Now, as the MacMentor, he shares his knowledge with consumers, schools, libraries, and small businesses. Specializing in, but not limited to Apple technology. You can see from the reviews from his customers they not only appreciate what is learned, but also for his relaxed, patient and humorous style of mentoring. You can learn more about Geoff at his website,

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