Messaging apps are one of the most fun ways to stay in touch with your friends and family members. The messaging app built into your phone can send basic SMS messages and enable you to share photos and videos. But one of the many messaging apps available in the app store makes it easier to send messages, share files, and have fun conversations with friends. And that’s not the only reason that you should replace your default texting app with something more capable.
Depending on the app you choose, a new messaging app can help you protect your privacy, make it easier to find your contacts, or offer more advanced features than the texting app that comes preinstalled on your phone. Ephemeral messaging apps can give you peace of mind about the longevity of your correspondence. New messaging apps can also make it easier to sync your messages and conversations among the devices you use in a typical day. They can make it easier and more affordable to stay in touch with family members and friends who live abroad. And because many messaging apps are available on both Android and iOS, selecting one can help you avoid the annoyances of cross-OS messaging.
Everyone’s aware of popular options like Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, and WhatsApp. But which other messaging apps are worth trying try out on Android or iOS? The 12 options ahead will make it both easier and more fun to talk to your friends and family throughout the day.
Charge enables you to send messages, create groups, and share photos with anyone in your address book, whether you’re on Android, iOS, or even on the web. You can message anyone with a phone number using your existing number, regardless of whether you’re on your smartphone or on your computer. And if you’re a fan of sending fun GIFs to your friends, you’ll like Charge’s +GIF button. It doesn’t open a GIF library or GIF search, but instead randomly selects a GIF that (hopefully) correlates with your conversation. Charge is available on Android and iOS.
Cola is one of our favorite messaging apps because it makes everything you do in a group conversation easier. The app features “Cola Bubbles,” which are interactive messages that work seamlessly with your conversation. These bubbles enable you to determine when you can meet, figure out where everyone is, add photos and videos to your chat, get everyone in a thread to vote in a simple poll, delegate and assign items from a to-do list, or take a photo or video specifically for the conversation. You can create custom groups, and send a message or Cola bubble to anyone’s mobile number, even if they don’t have Cola installed on their phone. Cola is available on iOS.
Dasher is one of our favorite messaging apps for people who want all of their conversations to be easier and more fun. The app enables you to privately share your live location, find a place to meet up, or express yourself with GIFs, links, and photos. (Just typing a hashtag will turn the word into a GIF.) You can also create polls, make payments, and preview the links you send right from your conversation by watching videos or playing music. Dasher is available on Android and iOS.
Franz isn’t exactly a standalone messaging app. Instead, its a Mac, Windows, and Linux app that combines 14 chat and messaging services, including Slack, WhatsApp, WeChat, HipChat, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Google Hangouts, GroupMe, and Skype. You can add each service many times, which makes it easy to manage private and business accounts. That means that if you want a single app to put all of your conversations in one place, Franz should be your go-to. While this isn’t, technically, an app you can download on Android or iOS, it does make it easier for you to keep track of the conversations you have in the messaging apps you use on your phone, which makes it worth a look.
Glide is the perfect messaging app for people who love video messaging. You can stream a live video message with Glide, and your friends can respond either instantly or later in the day. The app enables you to send and receive unlimited videos, and videos can either be watched right away or saved for later. Additionally, you can always delete a video that you’ve sent, if you’d prefer that your messages don’t stick around forever. Glide is available on Android, iOS, and Windows.
Luka is one of a growing number of messaging apps that enables you to talk to your friends and a helpful assortment of bots in the same place. The app simplifies the process of making plans or finding restaurants by connecting you with a range of different AI-powered bots that are available 24/7. New bots are added to the app regularly, so Luka is continually growing more capable. The app is available on iOS.
Signal is one of the best messaging apps available if you’re concerned about your privacy. The app enables you to send group, text, picture, and video messages without SMS or MMS fees. You can use your existing phone number and address book — so there are no separate logins or passwords to forget — and all of your conversations will be end-to-end encrypted. Open Whisper Systems, the company behind the app, never reads your messages, since the goal is to keep your communications as safe and as private as possible. Signal is available on Android and iOS.
Telegram is a name that’s probably popped up in your research on messaging apps, but here’s why you should pay attention: This is an app that offers both speed and security, and syncs across all of your devices. Whether you’re on your smartphone, tablet, or computer, you can use Telegram to send messages, photos, videos, and files. You can create huge groups of up to 5,000 members — a capability you probably won’t need to take advantage of if you’re just coordinating plans for Friday night. Your message history is stored in the cloud so that you can access it on any device. Additionally, Telegram delivers messages in the minimum number of bytes possible, so that it works even on weak mobile connections. It’s available on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone, as well as PC, Mac, Linux, and the web.
Viber is another well-known name when it comes to messaging apps. You can not only send text messages and photos with Viber, but you can also share your location or make calls to other Viber users. Additionally, you can create group messages, share stickers, or send links. You can use your existing address book, but all of your messages and calls will be end-to-end encrypted. Viber is available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and desktop.
Wickr is one of the best messaging apps for users who are conscious of their privacy and security (which, really, should be just about everybody). Wickr enables you to share encrypted text messages, videos, photos, voice messages, and files across your devices. Your conversations are protected with peer-to-peer encryption, and Wickr neither collects nor has access to your data. You can control who has access to your data and for how long, since you can set expiration dates for encrypted files. You can message people privately or in groups. Wickr is available on Android and iOS, as well as Windows, Mac, and Linux.
If you have friends who aren’t so great at sending straightforward replies to your messages, a fun app to try is Yes/No. The app enables you to ask your friends simple questions and get a yes or no answer. There’s no back and forth, no lengthy group messages that quickly veer off-topic, and no reason for your friends to delay sending you their answers. The app is available on Android and iOS.
ZeeroChat takes a novel approach to distinguish itself from an assortment of self-destructing messaging apps. ZeeroChat requires both users to be on the chat screen when messages are exchanged, which ensures that the exchange self-destructs in real time and doesn’t leave any traces for a third party to detect. You can start an active, real-time chat session by buzzing another user to get online. Then, a one-time chat screen is displayed on both phones, and the chat is disconnected when either of the users taps the “stop” button. Each text, photo, or video that you’ve sent disappears instantly. You can also use the “dropmail” feature to send a self-destructing text message when the person you want to message isn’t currently online. ZeeroChat is available on iOS.