Whether we like it or not, instant messaging apps have slowly but surely become the de facto way to communicate with one another across the world. Many of us have stopped trying to figure out long-distance phone call rates or how to send letters that take ages to arrive anyway (if they don’t get lost en route).
We simply want to talk with our friends and family – locally and internationally – with apps that are easy to understand, free to use, quick to deliver, and have strict data protection policies. Is it so much to ask? We don’t think so!
Which is why we’ll discuss the handiest instant messaging apps for you to communicate with others as simply as possible. As long as you don’t check your phone too often, these apps are great for instant messaging your contacts.
Here are some of the most popular instant messaging apps:
While there are a few solid messaging apps like Telegram and Viber out there, WhatsApp still comes out on top. Currently, with over 1.5 billion users in around 180 countries, you can rest assured that if you want to message someone, you can very likely do it on WhatsApp.
Granted, you’ll still need their phone number to do it, as WhatsApp is simply another way to send text messages without having to go via your mobile network to do so. Over the years, however, WhatsApp has evolved from just a free way to text, to a way to share video messages, audio messages, pictures, files, gifs, and even your location.
Despite being around for longer than WhatsApp, the equally great Facebook Messenger is still a touch behind with 1.3 billion users. Of course, that’s nothing to turn your nose up at! For all those billions of people already with a Facebook account, the transition to the native messaging app makes more sense than downloading another app.
But other than using the app for messaging people you already know, many businesses are using Facebook Messenger as a way to let customers quickly and easily get in contact.
Although small businesses will generally use real people for answering messages, bigger companies are increasingly making use of chatbots for Facebook Messenger to answer multiple queries as quickly as possible.
Despite being one of the newer apps on the scene, it’s fair to say that Spike has quickly become something of a game-changer. Spike is best described as a hybrid of email and a chat tool like WhatsApp. You still send messages to an email address, but the user interface looks like a chat app.
It’s designed to make emailing less formal and rigid, doing away with “Dear Sir” and “Kind regards.” You simply chat like you would in an app! For anyone who doesn’t use the app, they’ll still see emails as usual, via Gmail or Outlook for example, but Spike users get a whole new way to use email.
Instagram has become one of the best ways to share content lately. No longer just a way to like and comment on pictures and videos from those you follow, Instagram helps you keep in touch with people when, well, you’ve got nothing to say!
Whether it’s a cute dog video or a picture of a beautiful sunset over a mountain, Instagram makes it easy for people to keep in touch, while letting users network through sending direct messages to accounts they don’t necessarily follow.
While Snapchat’s “dissolving messages” and limited Stories features really set it apart from other chat apps at the time of its release in 2011, it’s really the fun filters that people have come to love. The augmented reality filters can turn your face into all sorts of wacky things, and with a constantly changing array of options, Snapchat always manages to keep things fresh.
The app might have lost a bit of ground to Instagram since its rival incorporated a similar Stories feature that disappears after a day, but there are plenty of people who still love Snapchat as a different way to message.
It has been around seemingly forever (2003, to be exact), but Skype is an absolute must for both private and business chats. The free video and audio features are useful for communicating with people across the world, but you can simply type messages on your phone if you don’t want to talk.
The ability to share images and files quickly is great, but Skype is still the best for 1 to 1 chat or even group chats. The fact that you can use Skype on your phone, tablet, or computer makes it one of the best cross-platform apps.
Microsoft Teams or Slack are both solid alternatives and many businesses prefer these, but for the original and the greatest, you can’t go wrong with Skype.
If keeping your communication absolutely private is the most important thing for a chat app, then download Signal right away. The open-source app is run by a nonprofit group called the Signal Foundation, which simply aims to give chat app users complete security when messaging.
Containing end-to-end encryption on the highest possible level, as well as the option for messages to self destruct, Signal is great for anyone who doesn’t trust the big businesses to keep their data confidential. Plus, it’s great to support the little guys every once in a while.
If you’re ever heard someone say, “Venmo me, please”, then they’re talking about this money transfer app! Venmo is a great instant messaging app that mainly functions as a way to transfer money to your friends and family online.
A bit like PayPal, but Venmo is useful for smaller amounts, like borrowing $10 from your colleague for lunch, for example. You can send or request payments through the use of a phone number or even an email account, and the encrypted transactions are really top-notch, so there’s no worry about hacking your bank account.
A must-have for anyone who rarely carries cash with them!