I am confident there are many ways to chat online. I use Google Gmail chat once in a while. If you and a friend both have Gmail accounts, which are free and fairly free of pesky offers, you can both install Chrome, the Google browser. It may be that using chat in that browser is a little easier than in the blue e Internet Browser or the Mac's Safari.
In Gmail on the lower left, there are a set of buttons relating to chat and who among your contacts might be online and interested in chat. Despite the name, chat is often silent but immediate exchange of short messages, not unlike texting. With Google Gmail chat, you can speak and you can see each other, free and over the internet. I haven't used Skype or any competing product for speaking or seeing over the internet but Google chat uses the internet and has no special charge associated with it.
The service is very much like Apple's "Facetime".
I am not clear about whether someone with a non-Google email address (not Gmail) can chat with a Gmail user. I think one of the chaters needs to be in Gmail to get it started.
Recently, Google added its Hangout service which allows video/audio calls among up to 9 callers at the same time. For some meetings and committees, that might be very handy and helpful. Of course, not everyone wants to be seen and may prefer to just listen and speak but not be on video.
Main blog: Fear, Fun and Filoz
Main web site: Kirbyvariety