FaceTime from Apple
Mom and dad: 8,447 miles away. Brother: 13-hour time difference. Best friend: 20-hour flight. For TCKs, spending time with family and staying in touch with friends can be a tricky affair, but innovative technologies have reshaped the way we stay connected. My mom stalks me on Facebook, my dad talks to me on Skype, and I chat daily with my brother using WhatsApp for BlackBerry. Denizen takes a look at the five must-have tech tools for TCKs.
1. WhatsApp – Compatible with iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and Nokia, WhatsApp is free, global text messaging for your cell phone that allows you to do group chats with up to five people. This is how one of my best friends and I manage to talk regularly, despite the fact that she’s in Singapore and I’m in San Francisco.
2. VoIP – International calling cards are so yesterday. Making international calls through Voice over Internet Protocol applications from your cell phone is easy and super cheap. No more dialing clumsy 1-800 numbers — just make a call using VoIP smart phone apps. There are several good providers for VoIP, including fring (iPhone or Android only), MO-Call, and TringMe. I personally like Truphone for BlackBerry because of its simple signup.
3. Time Zone Meeting Planner – Coordinating a call between New York, San Francisco, London, Dubai, Capetown, Berlin and Shanghai? Yeah, we’ve been there. Denizen’s editorial team spans six time zones and we depend on this web tool to figure out the best time to hold our Skype conference calls.
4. Skype – You know you’re a TCK if… you started using Skype back when it was still in its beta phase. Now there are several video chat platforms, including Google’s video Gchat and Apple’s iChat. But for me, Skype is tops. You can call other Skype users for free, and dial international phone numbers for a fraction of international calling rates. Plus, a lot of airport Wi-Fi hotspots let you pay using Skype Credits, which is super convenient.
5. Facebook – Facebook has revolutionized the way TCKs stay in touch with family and friends. My mom, who couldn’t figure out how to send an email until recently, is now avidly following me on Facebook. Like! We also recommend updating your status with your current location while you’re traveling so that friends in the area can contact you. Share with the community. What websites or apps do you use to keep in touch across long distances?