Free messenger and VoIP for Windows
ICQ is a messenger app and VoIP client you can download for free on Windows PCs. The name ICQ is a play on the phrase “I Seek You” and describes the app’s aim of helping users find people to chat with. Unlike other instant messenger apps, you don’t sign up by providing personal information like your name and address. All you need is a phone number, and you’ll receive a five-digit Unique Identification Number (UIN).
There’s no shortage of alternative messenger and VoIP apps for Windows users. WhatsApp supports voice and video calling for its desktop app. Like ICQ, you don’t need to provide any personal information except a valid phone number. Facebook’s messenger app also lets you text, make video calls, send and receive photos and videos, and more. To use it, you need an active Facebook account.
What is ICQ used for?
You can use ICQ to chat between two or more users privately, make encrypted video and voice calls, and create large group chats.
All video and audio calls are automatically encrypted using a ZRTP-based algorithm and VoIP technology. All your conversations are confidential and can’t be seen or heard by 3rd parties.
ICQ is a cloud-based application and can sync across all of your devices. This is a useful feature if you need to switch from your computer or laptop or your mobile phone and continue chatting. A useful privacy tool provided by ICQ is the ability to delete messages at any time. Deleting a message also removes it from the other user’s chat. Once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.
An interesting feature is the ability to send chats to yourself. This allows you to use ICQ as a free cloud storage app. You can send different kinds of media like gifs, videos, and pictures. It’s not recommended to use this as a permanent cloud storage solution, but it can be helpful in the short term.
Group chats can have up to 25,000 users simultaneously, which is a considerable number of people in one chat. ICQ favors privacy so that users can hide their phone numbers and any identifying details like their name and address from other participants. In chats, you can also start polls that allow users to cast their votes and see which users have read the group messages. Having up to 25,000 people can help organize events and let people have their say anonymously.
ICQ also comes with a helpful API bot that anyone can use to create a bot to interact with users. Using the developer documentation, you can set up a bot that performs specific actions, such as providing information. Many online businesses use bots to help customers troubleshoot problems, collect data by conducting surveys, or provide information.
A substitute for blogs
A possible alternative to blogs is ICQ’s channels. Anyone can start a channel and publish posts that are created as text messages. You can also attach media files like pictures and videos. After publishing your post, subscribers will receive a notification just like they would from a regular message. Channel authors can keep their identity hidden and remain completely anonymous.
What else can you do on ICQ?
Like other messenger apps, you can send stickers, which are small images or photos expressing some emotion. They help to personalize your communication and demonstrate feelings which is harder to do via online messages. The program’s AI machine learning will recommend stickers and also provide intelligent answers like short phrases to use as your communicating.
When making a video call, you can wear a digital mask that superimposes itself onto your face and follows you around the screen in real-time. It works by tracking your movements using face-detection technology. As your expression and movements change, too does the mask. You can also add masks to your existing photos and send them to your friends.
Unlike other messenger apps, ICQ’s global search lets you find new friends all around the world. Instead of searching for specific people, you enter certain parameters like gender, age, and country. If you prefer to keep your phone number and other details private but still allow people to search and find you, you can create a nickname.
Integrate with other platforms
ICQ vs. Telegram
It’s a popular cloud-based instant messaging app where you can share content like photos and videos and create group chats with up to 200,000 users - much more than ICQs 25,000 user limit. Like ICQ, you can also create a channel and communicate using VoIP. All chats and encrypted end-to-end for secure communication, there’s no advertising within the application, and Telegram doesn’t share data with third-party groups.
Telegram and ICQ are similar messaging apps, but Telegram has a more significant active number of users, but still less than other popular messaging apps like Facebook messenger and WhatsApp.
A great alternative messaging app
ICQ does many of the same things as other messaging apps to help you stay connected. It has audio to text so you can speak out loud and convert it into messages to text. Smart replies automatically suggest stickies and phrases to speed up your experience. You can have video calls with up to 50 users, chats with up to 25,000 participants, and many other features.
ICQ doesn’t have the largest number of users but it is one of the best privacy-focused messaging apps.