Skype is more than just voice and video chat: it contains text chat, too. Unfortunately, it’s incredibly unreliable, and only getting worse. None of my friends use it anymore–everyone’s switched to Telegram, which always works properly. Microsoft has wasted its time by rewriting the Skype client over and over instead of fixing the core problem.
Skype Can’t Reliably Send, Receive, Sync, or Notify Me About Messages
When Microsoft purchased Skype, it shut down Windows Live Messenger (formerly MSN Messenger), and encouraged people to instead use Skype for basic text chatting.
You’d think Skype would get more reliable over time as Microsoft invests in it, but this doesn’t seem to be the case in my experience of most people I know. These aren’t just a few isolated anecdotes. I’ve seen a lot of discontent about Skype’s text chat reliability online.
Skype is still okay for voice and video chatting–assuming you don’t mind obnoxious video ads interrupting your group calls. But Skype is completely awful if you ever want to send a text message.
Here are a variety of problems I’ve personally experienced with Skype:
- Notifications don’t appear. When I step away from my computer and put it to sleep, I expect to receive notifications of incoming messages on my phone so I can continue the conversation. Notifications often don’t appear in a timely fashion or at all, and I may only see that I’ve received new messages when I open the Skype app hours later.
- Messages don’t send reliably. It may be a problem with spotty mobile data or network connection issues, but I’ve had messages fail to send entirely. Sometimes, they appear as sent in the chat window but the other person never sees them. If there is a network issue, Skype will just give up attempting to send the message rather than continuing to try, and I have to manually tell Skype to try again. Telegram, for example, will keep trying to send the message until it actually goes through, even if that means waiting for a reliable signal. I know people will receive messages I send.
- Messages don’t sync reliably. When I pull up the Skype application on my phone or on a computer, it may take a long time to sync a message I’ve recently seen on another device. Sometimes I want to refer to a message I saw earlier, but it just won’t show up.
- Unread status doesn’t sync reliably. Even when messages sync reliably, some messages continue appearing “unread” on my other devices. They may even be older messages in a conversation, so I have to scroll back up through recent messages–which are marked as read–to see them and mark them as read.
- The Skype app is too heavy, both on Android phones and iPhones. It’s often slow to open and uses a lot of battery power.
- Chat messages appear out of order. When you’re having a conversation with someone, a message you send–or a message they send–won’t just appear at the bottom of the chat window. It’ll often get mixed in with older messages, making it impossible to follow the conversation. Amusingly enough, this only happened to me with Skype on Windows–which is funny, think you’d think Skype would work best on Windows, the operating system developed by its parent company. This now appears fixed, but it was a final straw that drove me and other people away from Skype. I’ve never had this kind of problem with any other chat client, and I’ve been using them for nearly two decades now.
That’s a lot of crap to put up with a program just because it’s popular.
Skype Includes Annoying Advertising–But Only on Windows!
On Windows, Skype has integrated banner advertisements that are targeted based on your web browsing activity. These always appear in your chat windows. In some cases, friends have even reported that these ads have started playing audio automatically in the background. They’ve had to fumble around to see where that ad is playing and found it in a minimized Skype window. That’s just not cool when you’re trying to work or do something else on your computer.
This may be news to you if you use Skype on literally any other platform. Skype for Mac never includes advertising, and neither does Skype for Android, iPhone, Linux, or the web.
I’ll repeat that: Microsoft owns Skype, but Skype only includes advertising on Windows. Skype for other platforms is better than the version for Microsoft’s own platform. Microsoft seems to prefer you use a Mac instead of a Windows PC. You can get rid of the Skype ads on Windows by adding Skype credit to your account, but this is only necessary on Windows. Everyone else just doesn’t have to deal with this.
Skype also interrupts group video calls with video advertisements unless you pay up, which only encourages people to use Google Hangouts and other alternatives instead.
I’ve Switched to Telegram, and It’s Way Better
At the end of the day, any other solid chat application would do. Even Skype as it worked a few years ago would be fine. But I ended up switching to Telegram for my text chat needs.
Telegram is widely known for its end-to-end encrypted chatting features, which makes it excellent if you’re concerned about privacy. But it also transmits messages very quickly. It offers clients for a variety of platforms–Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone and–yes–even the web. These clients all sync reliably with each other. The interface is simple and entirely ad-free. You don’t have to appreciate the highly-touted encryption features to use Telegram.
But most of all, it just works properly. I’ve never missed a notification or seen one delayed. I’ve never had someone fail to receive a message. Messages sync instantaneously and are stored offline, so it’s possible to quickly view them on my phone even if I don’t have a strong mobile data signal. The app opens more quickly. If there’s a network issue and the app can’t send a message, Telegram will keep trying until the message goes through. Chat messages even appear in the correct order (go figure).
Telegram doesn’t offer voice or video chat like Skype does, so you may still need to keep Skype around on your system. But for text chats, Telegram is the far superior solution. After using it for months, I can’t remember encountering any one instance of the problems I mentioned above. I bumped into at least one of those problems every day when I used Skype.
Telegram is a solid chat application that can reliably move between devices, speedily sending and syncing messages without any problems.
But the reason people are switching to Telegram isn’t really just about Telegram. It’s because Skype seems to be falling apart and becoming worse. You could make a great argument for switching to many other chat services, too–from Facebook Messenger to Apple’s iMessage to Google Hangouts. I wouldn’t be surprised if Skype is seeing an exodus to a variety of other services.
Image Credit: Dominiek ter Heide on Flickr