- What are Messaging Apps?
- List of Best Messaging Apps for Android in 2021
What are Messaging Apps?
You can consider a messaging app as a dedicated platform or application designed to connect users through their mobile devices (or through tablets, desktop computers, PCs, and Macs presently). The majority of you must already be familiar with the names like WhatsApp, Slack, Messenger, etc. These are all some of the most popular messaging apps, and this write-up covers many other apps, giving you a comprehensive list of the best Android messaging apps in 2021.
Before the modern-day messaging apps rose to fame in their current form, people used to communicate with each other via messages either as SMS (Short Message Service) or MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service). A Brief History of SMS covers this interesting subject thoroughly for you.
Fun Fact: Over 2.52 billion people in the world use messaging apps on their mobile devices. This number is expected to grow over 3 billion by 2022.
Source: Messaging Apps Statistics 2020
Messaging applications were primarily designed to facilitate private communication between individuals (which expanded to small groups a little later). However, they are increasingly being used in innovative new ways, such as:
How messaging has evolved into a popular trend of contemporary times?
The transition from SMS and MMS to instant messaging apps as the default way of non-verbal communication was a slow but certain one. As of now, it seems there are already more than enough options for you, but the world never seems to have enough of anything.
Let’s have a glance at the evolution of messaging:
1961 – A collaboration between MIT’s Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS) and various multiuser operating systems results in pioneering instant messaging, allowing real-time chat between up to 30 users.
1988 – IRC (Internet Relay Chat) introduces a real-time group chat feature. On top of its popularity through the 1990s, IRC still boasts hundreds of thousands of users presently.
1992 – Neil Papworth sends the first-ever text message, “Merry Christmas”, through the Vodafone GSM network in the U.K.
1996 – Mirabilis, an Israel-based company launches ICQ, allowing users to engage in one-on-one and group chats, exchanging files, and searching for other users on the network.
1997 – Introducing the world with the “Buddy List” concept, AOL launches its famed AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). At 52%, it enjoys the biggest chunk of the instant messaging market share of North America by the mid-2000s.
1998 – The world witnesses the launch of Yahoo! Messenger, requiring a Yahoo! ID from the users to connect.
1999 – AIM and Yahoo! Messengers face immense competition from MSN Messenger, as Microsoft release their first messenger. It’s able to garner about 2.5 billion messages daily by 2005.
2000s – the golden age for instant messaging, enjoying massive success and giving people lots of fun and practicality in instant messaging, photo sharing, video calls, and even playing games.
2001 – By 2001, the total number of SMS text messages throughout the US reached 30 million every single month.
2002 – Offering compatibility with AIM, Apple steps in with the launch of iChat, a platform that runs on Mac OS X.
2003 – Skype pleasantly surprises the world with its instant messaging, voice, and video calling features.
2005 – Gmail takes a leap forward by launching the Google Talk, offering users to communicate conveniently with email contacts in the Gmail user’s window.
2006 – The world gets the first of instant messaging platform embedded within a social media network, i.e., MySpaceIM.
2008 – Facebook Chat arrives on the scene, allowing people to message friends individually as well as collectively through group chats on its social network.
2009 – Users can now communicate via text, video, and audio for free, raising the bar even further.
2011 – Initially launched by Tencent following in the footsteps of WhatsApp, WeChat grows way more than a conventional chat app. It’s a gigantic, fully integrated mobile platform allowing users to play games, shop around, execute financial transactions, and so much more. By 2016, WeChat was processing $46 billion in payments alone, about twice of PayPal.
2011 – Snapchat, appealing to millennials primarily, enables users to communicate via “snaps” that disappear after a specific time.
2013 – Slack steps in to invade the communication space in the corporate sector, allowing teams to communicate efficiently & quickly. Slack hit the “unicorn” status way faster than others, growing over $1 billion in 1.25 years only.
How does a modern-day message app look like?
You can’t overrule the significance of choosing the right chat app that best suits your communication needs. Some must-have features of such an app include:
The current era is all about using multiple devices. So, the best messaging apps for Android should be able to offer seamless syncing with the cloud and other devices you might use. This makes it easier for users to switch between devices without worrying about losing any information.
Chatbots have taken centre stage in recent times, making your communication apps more interactive and convenient. For instance, bots can help your business communicate aptly with your customer base at any time, lending them important company information or catering to some other basic queries.
Privacy & Security
Users’ concern for privacy and security in modern-day communication apps has always been there, highlighted even more with recent WhatsApp security breaches. In fact, that’s led millions and millions of people worldwide to search for reliable and secure WhatsApp alternatives. And, any instant messaging app that’s not able to ensure the highest level of user privacy will find it almost impossible to make a mark.
List of Best Messaging Apps for Android in 2021
Given below is a list of the most popularly used messaging apps you can download on your android phones in 2021.
Talk Home App
Best for: Talk Home app is best for people who want to text or call in places with no reliable internet services.
Talk Home App Overview
With more than a million downloads and a 4.5 user rating on the Apple store, Talk Home is fast gaining people’s attention on Android as well. Most of the mainstream instant messaging apps like WhatsApp require internet service and app installation for anyone who wants to communicate through them. Talk Home app doesn’t. This is one of the major reasons behind its popularity. It optimises the connectivity by relying on a combination of local lines and the internet, enabling the user to call on mobiles and landlines in addition to sending messages.
- It doesn’t need the internet to send messages or make calls
- The receiver doesn’t require app installation on the device to receive messages or calls
- Cheapest rates for international messaging and calls to over 240 global destinations
- Supports in-app credit transfers
- Allows international mobile top-ups to more than 500 networks globally
- User-friendly interface
- Highly secure communication app with end-to-end encryption
- No affiliation with any group or country
- Free to download, with in-app purchases to offer
- No free in-app calls and text messages
- Doesn’t support multimedia messaging at the moment
Best for: WhatsApp uses your phone’s cellular or Wi-Fi connection to facilitate messaging and voice calling to nearly anyone on the planet, alone or in a group and is especially nice for families and small collaborative workgroups.
With more than 2 billion monthly active users, WhatsApp still tops the list of the best messaging apps despite serious backlash over some recent security lapses. It supports 100 billion-plus messages daily. Available on Android, iOS, and almost all other major platforms, you cannot confine it as a messages app only. You can also use it for audio and video calls. You can use WhatsApp to communicate with others only if they have the app on their smartphones along with a fast internet connection.
- Available on all major platforms to download and use
- Supports desktop and tablet usage
- Offers end-to-end encryption
- Unlimited text messages
- Supports multimedia messages, video clips, files, and much more
- Needs no sign-up, just your mobile number to register on the network
- Import contacts automatically
- Group messaging, audio & video calls
- No ads
- Vulnerable to scams
- Requires internet connectivity and app installation on the device
Best for: The majority of experts consider Telegram as the best encrypted messaging app on the market currently. It is ideal for people who are extra conscious about their security and privacy.
If you’re looking for the most reliable and secure WhatsApp alternatives to protect your security and privacy, you cannot ignore this cross-platform private messaging app. Bosting of over a million monthly active users, Telegram can be run on multiple devices simultaneously, seamlessly syncing your messages across all of them. In addition to sending unlimited messages to your connections worldwide, you can also use it for sharing photos, videos, audio/video calling, and file sharing. It offers convenient file-sharing (almost all types of files including zip, doc, mp3, etc.), also offering you to create groups of up to 200,000 people or channels.
- Next-level privacy and security with end-to-end encryption for messages & calls
- Unlimited personal and business messages
- Free file sharing and storage facility for up to 2-GB files
- Also allows setting up free surveys, instant quizzes, and trivia questions without charging you
- Supports self-destructing messages in secret chats to enhance your privacy
- Allows uploading of multiple profile pictures
- Allows customisation of message corners and themes
- You need internet connectivity and application download to send and receive messages through Telegram
- The app interface can prove a little tricky for not-so-tech-savvy people; for instance, difficulty in sending & retrieving files without knowing the channel’s instructions
Best for: People who want a handy and free text message app that can also help them with their international calling needs without compromising on safety and security.
By March 2020, Viber had over 1.17 billion registered users to boast of, which certainly makes it one of the most viable choices for the best messaging apps list. In addition to a user-friendly interface, it also offers free instant messaging, calling (audio/video), and file transfer features under end-to-end (E2E) protection. Moreover, it supports multiplatform compatibility, so you can use it as a desktop messaging app as well. Instead of some other credentials, It needs your mobile number to register you on the network.
- Text messages, audio/video calls, and all types of file transfers among individual users enjoy E2E encryption
- Mobile number instead of username-based registration on the network
- Unlimited free texts, voice and video calls among Viber users
- Also facilitates group chats and group audio/video calls
- Users can also join public chatrooms, news, and games communities
- Also allows international calling on mobiles and landlines (Viber Out), but it’s paid and quite expensive in comparison to other viable options like Talk Home
Best for: Skype can best serve people who have no internet issues, and are interested in communicating with others through text messages, audio/video calls, & screen sharing. That’s why people often use it as a corporate communication tool.
Skype enjoys the reputation as one of the most popular messaging apps that also lets people communicate with each other through audio & video calling. Instant messaging, file sharing, screen sharing, and audio/video calls are free among Skype users. You can even use it to call people on their landlines and mobiles (Skype Out), much similar to Viber. While Skype can function on your desktops as well, people don’t prefer it much for its Skype Out feature because of its high price.
- Super easy to use
- Preferred choice as a reliable corporate communication tool
- Supports free audio & video calls, even among groups (though charging for it after you exceed a certain number of participants or talk time)
- Doesn’t offer E2E encryption by default
- VOIP calls are costly compared to options like Talk Home
Best for: Line caters best to the communication needs of people living in Japan and a few neighbouring countries, enjoying the status of a super-app. It shares similarities to China’s WeChat and South Korea’s Kakao Talk.
- Free and unlimited instant messaging
- Group audio/video chat and audio/video calls
- Supports OpenChat threads & forum participation
- Also supports money transfers and financial payments with the Line Pay feature
- Similarly, facilitates food ordering and delivery through the Line Man feature
- Allows booking and participation in concerts, live music streams, and even sports events
- Much more than free messaging apps, it can surprise you with an ever-growing list of features. But only if you live in Japan, North Korea, and a few neighbouring countries.
- It charges for calling on landlines
Best for: Great for people in search of something much better than a free and secure messaging app.
Riot is a UK-based app striving to offer something as functional and diverse as slack, but as flexible as an open-source platform. However, it wants to do so without undermining privacy and security. This will end up as the best combo of communication and productivity in a single platform. Built on Matrix, Riot intends to lend its users a high level of tweaking and customisation through its open-source nature. For instance, it allows different teams to collaborate and share data on multiple projects and multiple communication apps like Twitter, Slack, and IRC.
- Offers much more than simple chat and messaging features, i.e. custom communication capabilities
- Regarded as the best encrypted messaging app
- Transfers data and files securely
- Comes with intelligent notifications
- Highly secure audio/video conferencing options
- Allows working between multiple apps and platforms
- Not very famous or convenient in using on multiple devices
Best for: Designed to cater to the needs of people who are looking not only for a handy messages app but all-inclusive communication plus daily digital-needs app.
Initially launched as a text message app in 2011 by Tencent, the Chinese tech giant. It has undergone an unbelievable transformation ever since, evolving into an ambitious social media hybrid platform. With more than a billion active monthly users by 2018, WeChat became the world’s largest standalone mobile app. Currently, it enjoys the status of the standard app for everything from communication to business and virtual socialising hub. You can use it for a host of activities including texts, audio/video calls & messages, and financial payments as well.
- Offers instant messaging, audio/video calls, voice messages, group chats & audio/video calls, file transfers, emojis, stickers, etc.
- Photo sharing and status updates on the “Moments” feed
- Live location sharing
- “Shake & Look Around” feature to find and communicate with random nearby users on the network
- Using wallet services for money transfers and daily-use financial transactions
- Supports translation in about 20 languages
- “Mini Program” feature based on miniature, low-memory apps that can be used for a wide range of activities – more like small functioning apps within the WeChat app
- Comes with somewhat “loose privacy settings” by default, i.e., even unknown users on the network can find and send add-requests without your consent. However, you may beef them up later on to some extent (as the Chinese government doesn’t allow too much autonomy)
Best for: A great messaging app for people interested in maintaining contact with their family and friends conveniently, but without exposing themselves to the shortcomings of cyber security.
Many experts believe Kik has great potential for turning into a highly secure messaging app, offering convenient messaging without jeopardising the user privacy aspects. It’s a relatively new app, which lets people use it without sharing their phone number. It relies on your email address instead and offers support for multiple platforms. So, you can download the app on different devices including PCs and Macs, and use it as you want.
- Unlimited text messages to your contacts on the network
- Comes with multiplatform support, also consuming low memory than many popular free messaging apps
- Better notification mechanism for sending, delivering, and reading texts messages/statuses
- Offers a better and easy way of blocking unwanted people
- Rated for 17 and above officially, you’ll find a large number of children between 11-15 on this app, which makes them vulnerable to sexting, cyberbullying & harassment
Best for: The main benefit of Facebook Messenger is the ease with which you can send and receive messages with contacts (much like regular cell phone texting).
Messenger, an instant messaging service owned by Facebook, launched in August 2011, replacing Facebook Chat. You don’t need a Facebook account to use it, so it’s available for individuals who haven’t signed up or have closed down their accounts. While the two are partially connected when you have a Facebook account, you aren’t required to have one.
- Instant messaging
- Photo/video sharing
- Group chats – users can chat with their Facebook friends and phone book contacts
- Ability to record voice messages
- Live video chat/video calling
Best for: Surfacing as a free alternative to WhatsApp in recent times, Signal offers free messaging, voice calls, video calls and much more. With its cross-platform compatibility, end-to-end encryption and open-source features, Signal can be a great choice for people wanting added privacy and security.
Launched in July 2014, Signal relies on end-to-end encryption for all types of communication between its users. It is totally open-source, and its code is available on GitHub. It also underwent an independent audit in 2016, gaining significant respect and reliability.
- Fully open-source and independently audited application
- Highly secure
- Audio chat verification
- No logging of IP addresses
- Secure and better transfer of files
- Ability to replace your default messaging app
- Requires you to sign up using your telephone number, which makes a lot of people quite uncomfortable
Best for: This app serves to cater to individuals and businesses that prefer security and privacy over all other things in a communication app. It features highly secure, end-to-end encryption across all the communication taking place through it.
Many believe that Wire can easily lead the rest of the contenders of WhatsApp alternative for chat/messaging, and quite rightly so. Its top-end security considers all aspects of personal and business privacy, relying primarily on suave end-to-end encryption technology. The industry also knows it as the app being developed by the same team who were behind the development of Skype. It is also evidence of its convenient and user-friendly interface.
- With end-to-end encryption for messaging and video calls, Wire may be the safest alternative to WhatsApp for messaging and video calls
- Supports a multitude of platforms, including Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, and Linux
- Trendy and user-friendly interface
- Open-source infrastructure means no backdoor channelling by different agencies or governments sneaking into your private information
- Multiplatform support, allowing you to sign in on up to 8 devices simultaneously
- A special sketch feature helps people explain things better when they want
- Cloud synchronisation is missing, which many people want to see in all contemporary communication apps
- Lacks in various aspects of business usage
Apps in general and mobile apps, in particular, have become an integral part of our daily lives. They help us maintain a connection with people who may be far from us geographically, but are closer to our hearts and souls. We can rely on these apps to get to our loved ones quickly and efficiently, thanks to the ever-evolving features like video calling, file sharing, and a bunch of others. It seems like these communication apps have found a permanent place in our contemporary lifestyle, and will continue to affect and assist how we reach out to our beloved ones.
What is the difference between a text message and an SMS message?
Conventionally, a text message restricted to no more than 160 characters with no files attached to it, is referred to as an SMS (Short Message Service). On the other hand, a modern-day text message may include attachments, such as a picture, emoji, video, or a website link, also known as an MMS (Multimedia Message).
What is the best text messaging app for Android?
The list of best messaging apps for Android includes:
Talk Home App, WhatsApp, Telegram, Viber, Skype, Line, Riot, WeChat, Kik, Messenger, Signal, and Wire.
What app does Android use for messaging?
Google loads its smartphones with “Google Messages” (also referred to as just Messages) as the default instant messaging app. It’s a free, all-in-one kind of app, which you can use for texting, chatting, group texting, sending pictures, sharing videos, sending audio messages, and so forth.
What is the default messaging app for Android?
At present, Android devices are offered with three text messaging apps pre-installed, i.e. Message+ (default app), Messages, and Hangouts.