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Chat Apps: Six Top Messaging Platforms Post WhatsApp
Posted On April 1, 2014
Tired of paying for unlimited text messaging? Have relatives in countries not easily reachable by phone? Or maybe you’re suspicious of WhatsApp Messenger now that the notoriously info-hungry Facebook has gotten its hands on the app? There are plenty of reasons for someone to download a mobile messaging service in 2014, even if the basic functionality of the internet messenger hasn’t changed much from AOL Instant Messenger’s heyday at the start of the second millennium.

Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash and stock in February has vaulted the humble messenger into the app spotlight. Even Bill Gates chimed in to say that Microsoft would have bought the app if the opportunity arose (though not at that price). Here’s a collection of WhatsApp’s peers, some smaller and some larger, that are worth checking out (and getting your friends to check out too).

Name: Kik Messenger

Platform: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Nokia, BlackBerry

Unique Draw: Unlike many other mobile chat programs, Kik’s userbase isn’t drawn from a user’s phone number contact list, which can have the unintended effect of inviting people who also have the program to chat with you even if you’d prefer not to. Instead, Kik works on a handle basis, which allows users to chat with only those people whom they’d prefer. Kik had an impressive 2013—going from 50 million users in April to more than 100 million in November—and it looks to capitalize on its success this year, releasing a built-in browser in the messenger itself.

Name: WeChat

Platform: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Nokia, BlackBerry

Unique Draw: WeChat, also known as Weixin in China, is clearly of the opinion that more is better. Beyond video calling, voice messaging, and chat programs, WeChat has a host of features that seem to be creeping closer to making the app a full-blown social network all the time. Users can throw a message in a bottle out on the digital waves and pick up any messages they might find washing up on the shore as well. Similarly, WeChat users near one another (which is a fairly likely proposition, considering WeChat’s 300 million users), can shake their phones to search for other people who have shaken their own devices and want to chat.

Name: Viber

Platform: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Nokia, BlackBerry

Unique Draw: Viber seems to be aiming to become the platonic form of messenger clients. In fact, there really aren’t any extraneous features about Viber at all that could gum up the works. At its core, the app provides free calls, texts, and picture sharing with other Viber members, and becoming a member doesn’t even require registration—simply a text message confirmation, at which point the program is associated with the user’s phone number. All the sharing is done across Wi-Fi or 3G service based on the user’s data plan. Want to call somebody who doesn’t have Viber? For that, users may purchase Viber Out credit, and then call at relatively low prices. (To call France, for example, costs 1.9 cents per minute, and it costs 2.3 cents a minute to call Australia.)

Name: KakaoTalk

Platform: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry

Unique Draw: Like its competitors, KakaoTalk provides free calling and texting services using Wi-Fi or a data plan. KakaoTalk separates itself from the pack by allowing up to five people to talk to one another in group calls, and it even provides talking avatars to mime users’ voices as they speak. Chat rooms come equipped with the ability to take a poll of users, and you can further customize your version of the app with themes, favorite images, and detailed emoji. KakaoTalk is aimed toward a younger audience, but it’s a perfectly functional messenger. And if the aesthetic appeals to you, Kakao has plenty of other programs to flesh out your online experience, including a music program, a social network, and a customizable home screen.

Name: LINE

Platform: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Nokia, BlackBerry

Unique Draw: More than a messaging service, LINE has taken a play or two from the Twitter handbook. Besides the common features of the messenger, LINE’s add-ons are designed to appeal to those who want games, coupons, and stickers when they chat. LINE has a collection of custom games for users that are ever-so-slightly different from the chart-topping games on the traditional app stores. Users can also receive coupons and reminders by following the official account of a brand they enjoy, or they can keep up with news from celebrities and other public figures. Finally, there are 10,000 stickers and emoticons for the users who don’t always find the written word the most convenient way to communicate.

Name: Telegram

Platform: Android, iOS

Unique Draw: Telegram is for the security-minded messenger. The website claims that the service is heavily encrypted, and, if the user prefers, it has messages that will self-destruct after they’re received. Tech-minded users can check out the program from the inside, as Telegram lets anyone see its source code, protocol, and API in a bid at trustworthiness. Other developers can build on it using the same API. Despite this, Telegram is so sure of its security that the app’s backer has pledged $200,000 bitcoins to the first person who can break its encrypted protocol. Telegram’s creators also promise not to sell any information you’ve given them—in fact, the creators say they don’t plan on monetizing the service or creating a userbase at all. They’re supported by a private fund, and when that money runs out, the creators plan to ask for donations or to charge for new, nonessential options to keep Telegram running.

Donovan Griffin is the editor of Information Today.

Email Donovan Griffin

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Comments Add A Comment
Posted By Priyansha Ranaut7/31/2014 7:32:41 AM

Well, this list sums it all but I would like to recommend one more. Photo4tune is amazing when it comes to the free features it provides. Its a bundle of features and all that for free! Try it out on Playstore.

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