In August 2012, I wrote a blog entry on three tools to help expats stay in touch with family and friends abroad: Skype, the magicJack, and Viber.
As it turned out, I rarely use Skype with anyone other than Theo (and he’s in the next room or just beside me; we use it to share links and files). My family just never quite caught on to it and my friends never seem to be on it when I’m online. Viber never caught on either. The magicJack is my most used device for staying connected with folks back in the USA. I easily make and receive calls any time and will chat for hours with family and friends.
Facebook puts up a good fight though. It seems like everyone is on Facebook all the time and it makes it easy and convenient to keep up with people. It’s definitely not the same as talking over the phone and it will never replace my calls to dear ones in the USA, but Facebook has changed the way we communicate. I like the witty observations my friends make, the news and photos they share, and the intelligent discussions that take place.
One thing I was missing was being able to communicate via text message with my sister. We texted each other all the time (despite the fact that we were neighbours), but texting long-distance would result in outrageous costs. Enter Facebook Messenger.
Facebook Messenger is an instant messaging application for Android, iPhone, and Windows phones. The beauty of it is that it’s a standalone app. You don’t have to open your Facebook app to access the chat. It’s free on Wi-Fi and uses your existing data plan otherwise.
Do you use Facebook Messenger? Have you used it for texting abroad? What other tools do you use to stay connected?