Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

On Valentine’s Day, Ol’ Fashioned Phone Calls Beat Video Chat for Long-Distance Love

Turns out Stevie Wonder knew what was up when he just called to say he loved you: Out of all the means of digital communications available to us, the overwhelming majority of users plan to use a smartphone to connect with significant others today.

This is according to a new report from Rebtel, a Stockholm-based VoIP company and Skype competitor.

Of all the participants in Rebtel’s recent survey, 79 percent said they planned to celebrate Valentine’s Day in some way, with 56.8 percent indicating their significant other will be away from home today. A full 86.6 percent of those people said they planned to get in touch with their long-distance lover — which left us scratching our heads a bit about the remaining 13.4 percent who wouldn’t be getting in touch at all. But, hey, not everyone’s into hearts-and-flowers day.

When told they had to choose just one method for communicating with their S.O. away from home, here’s how respondents ranked them:

Mobile phone: 64.3 percent

VoIP calling: 15.4 percent

Landline call: 6.4 percent

Video chat: 4.6 percent

Email: 3.9 percent

SMS: 2.5 percent

Social networks: 1.8 percent

Instant Messenger: 1.1 percent

With lots of free or cheap VoIP calling options out there — Skype, Rebtel and Viber, to name a few — it’s somewhat surprising that VoIP service and video chats ranked so far below mobile phone calling, but many consumers might find it easier just to punch in a number, or simply might not be aware of some of the VoIP apps.

And it’s nice to see that face-to-face video chatting ranks somewhere above SMS text messaging, scribbling on a Facebook wall or sending an IM.

For those of you reading this with sinking stomachs — having just now realized that today is Valentine’s Day — there are a slew of last-minute applications to bail you out, or buy you some time while you search for real, live, analog gift ideas. Like Tom’s Love Letters, or Lovestagram, an Instagram plugin created by the girlfriend of the one of the founders of the popular photo app. You could also send a love-themed playlist from Spotify or Rdio.

There’s also a super-nerdy but fun Web application from Desmos that can draw personalized Valentines with an HTML5 graphing calculator. According to its creator, Eli Luberoff, anyone can choose a romantically-themed graph, add a caption, and then email or tweet it to their significant other. The premise: Math and love are the two universal languages — combined, who knows the power?

Lastly, you can always turn to Which, despite what its name suggests, doesn’t even require a smartphone. Have at it, dudes.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr/Gawen947)

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus