A young girl sitting on her couch comfortably while chatting with her friends using a best chat app
Technology

Best Chat Apps – Free, Secure, and Anonymous Apps in 2021

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“Merry Christmas” was the first-ever text message sent. Today over 5 billion people globally send and receive text messages, roughly 65% of the world’s population. What makes it more compelling and enticing is how the chat apps make it more fun and user-centred to communicate via texting.

Collaboration is the foundation of a successful venture, and instant communication between friends creates a sense of care. Some of the best chat apps offer real-time communication and increase productivity and relation many folds.

Do you know around 42 million messages are sent each minute? Messaging is unquestionably the number one digital activity people around the world engage in. Over 2.52 billion people use messaging apps on mobile. These numbers are enormous and indicate the significance of these chatting platforms in our daily life.

With billions of monthly users, messaging apps provide endless opportunities to masses and businesses alike. They’re the go-to way of communication for individuals and companies.

💬 What is Chat?

Chat refers to real-time communication between two or more users, exchanging messages on the internet. It involves a chat-enabled software or application. Generally, it is also referred to as chatting, online chat or Internet chat.

Chat can only be text or verbal, visual, audio, or audio-visual (video) through the internet. If it happens through a desktop, it requires chat software that supports Internet Relay Chat and, when on smartphones, needs chat apps or instant messenger applications. You can also chat via the online chat services that work on browsers and require you to sign up with email.

Don’t get confused with chat, instant messaging, and texting because they’re used synonymously and mean sending and receiving text.

🤔 How Technology is Changing Our Communication

The era of hyper-communication? Humans have come far in connecting and communicating with each other. From smoke signals and messenger pigeons to the telegraph, then telephone, email, and chat apps. Our ways have consistently evolved through the centuries in how we interact with each other.

Today digital ways have superseded almost every other form of communication. If you’re like most of us, you won’t be able to remember the last time you wrote a letter, rather a group chat with colleagues or share pictures with friends across the world. Picking up the phone is also a rare sight too – instead, we do WhatsApp, send Snaps, hang out on Telegram or chat on iMessage.

The most evident way technology has changed communication is by saving time and money. Nowadays, you won’t have to spend a lot to stay in touch with someone worldwide or send letters to someone in another city. It has allowed us to be far more creative and do essential things in our lives.

The advancements in technology have given us more control and opened more ways to communicate with others. Whether personal or business communications, we have many options to choose from and stay ahead of time.

😎 The Best Messaging Apps We’ve Seen in 2021

Smartphones enable instant and smooth communication with our friends, family, and virtually anyone, anywhere. Some of the best video chat apps offer you a superior experience and serve as better email and text messaging alternatives. Owing to the built-in social networking, free audio, video calling, and enhanced security.

We’ll have an extensive review of some of the best chatting apps for desktop and mobile devices. So, let’s get cracking.

Note: This list isn’t organised on a ranking basis.

1. Discord

Discord started in 2015 as a fun messaging platform aimed at gamers to stay connected while they play together. The app has over 300 million users worldwide, with at least 14 million active users each day. By far the best messenger app for gamers.

Some several integrations and bots are added to community chats and are super easy to set up. The app features private group chats with up to 10 friends in the space. As gamers are busy with gameplay, the app offers voice chat features for hands-free communication.

With multi-platform support, the app runs smoothly on most mobile devices and computer operating systems. Also, there’s a web client for platforms that don’t have a native app. Users can do multiple text chats, send GIFs, and much more.

Compatible OS: Android, iOS

Pros:

  • Variety of channels
  • Screen sharing
  • Secure and reliable
  • Easy to set up

Cons:

  • Basic video chat
  • High usage of system resources
  • Limits on users and channels per server

2. Snapchat

Snapchat’s distinctive instant messaging capability appeals to every teenager. The app differs from most instant messaging apps because it specialises in sending multimedia messages that self-destruct. After a predetermined time or once the recipient views the media, it will be deleted. These multimedia messages are known as snaps and can include many stickers, emojis, and edits on the go.

Also, you can send messages without pictures and, in some localities, use Snapcash to send and receive money from your phone. The platform also supports a variety of Bitmojis, send short videos, do live video chatting with friends, and share daily stories in the form of streaks.

Use incredible artificial reality (AR) filters, add text or some minor editing and send it to anyone in your contacts.

Compatible OS: Android, iOS

Pros:

  • Wide variety of AR filters
  • Self-destructing snaps
  • Geofilters
  • Great for sales and promotion

Cons:

  • Lack of analytics
  • Stories are available for a limited time

Useful Read: Best Wi-Fi Calling Apps in 2021

3. WeChat

WeChat is the most popular messaging app in China, with more than a billion monthly users. It is more than just a messaging app. It has features like photo sharing and voice and video calls. Location sharing assists users in sharing their live location with friends. Share snapshots of your day, group chat with up to 500 people, or video calls your friends up to 9 participants per room.

The app supports games, payments, book flights and hotels, and much more than messaging. Another key feature is known as “mini-programs,” which are apps within WeChat often described as “super apps” by the company. These apps make WeChat a one-stop-shop for its users for everything from banking to ride-hailing services.

Exchange contact details with anyone by scanning the other person’s phone. You can use a phone number or ID to add someone and search for any nearby people. Even businesses in China prefer WeChat to email. With “Moments” social features, users can upload images or videos for their friends to like or comment on.

Compatible OS: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS

Pros:

  • Scan to add a new contact
  • Businesses heaven
  • A thriving ecosystem of mini-apps

Cons:

  • Not available outside of China
  • Strict rules to comply

4. Talk Home App

Another great app with plenty of valuable features is Talk Home App. It uses innovative VoIP technology to allow anyone on any network to make high-quality calls or send messages. All that without requiring you to have the internet. It relies on local lines to establish connections, thereby offering reliable and robust connectivity.

You can send messages to any number worldwide without needing the receiver to have the app installed on their smartphone. So, virtually any mobile number can receive a message when you’re using Talk Home App. The app allows you to transfer mobile credit or balance to any user and easily top up your own balance.

Compatible OS: Android, iOS

Pros:

  • Crystal-clear phone calls
  • Best international calling rates
  • Send messages to anyone around the world without needing them to have the app
  • Serves more than 250 destinations worldwide
  • Auto contact sync

Cons:

  • No video calls
  • Can’t share live location

5. Facebook Messenger

Facebook’s Messenger makes it convenient for all Facebook users to chat with friends and family added to their profile. The app will automatically populate your contacts, though you can also add a contact by scanning a unique code. You can find a variety of free stickers, and you can send GIFs.

Messenger allows you to make reliable and precise video and voice calls. The “Chat Heads” on Android offer a floating icon on top of the screen, which serves to be pretty handy. Share files, videos, photos, your location, and even money in some markets. Also, you can start a secret conversation that is end-to-end encrypted.

Messenger also has rooms that can host up to 50 people, where you can create a link and share it with anyone, even if they’re not on Facebook. The vanish mode allows you to send messages that disappear as soon as you exit the chat. Enjoy watch together, a feature to binge watch TV shows, videos, movies with your friends in real-time.

Compatible OS: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS

Pros:

  • Faster, more swift chatting experience
  • Audio calls and video calls
  • Share files, images, links, and location
  • Business chat and payment system

Cons:

  • Privacy concerns
  • Can quickly drain the battery

6. Kik

The messaging and social networking app of the youth, Kik, has a broad user base. The app requires you to sign up using email, and thereby you can keep your privacy. You can add friends to the app by scanning the unique Kik QR code. Most of the users, almost 70%, are between the ages of 13 and 24, which makes it a pure teen community to interact and make friends.

It’s a multi-platform app and is more than a chatting app with over 300 million active users. The app is easy to use yet features a premium look and feel. The live typing feature shows you in real-time when your contact is typing. You can invite friends and family through email, SMS, or Facebook and Twitter. Another fantastic feature is “Meet New People,” which throws you into new chat rooms with other Kik users based on your interests.

Compatible OS: iOS, Android, Amazon for Kindle Fire

Pros:

  • One-on-one, group, or even bot chats
  • Wide variety of emojis and GIFs
  • Kik bots are amazing
  • Kik codes let you connect with anyone

Cons:

  • Prone to cyberbullying
  • Exposure to inappropriate content

7. LINE

Line Messenger is a popular chatting platform offering a cross-platform messaging solution. You can send text messages, make audio calls and video calls. Also, you can create chat groups with up to 200 users. The desktop client makes it even easier to continue chatting with your friends and family without having to pick up your phone each time you want to text.

The line also offers premium themes, stickers, and games for a fee. In comparison, the Line Out feature allows you to talk to anyone anywhere without needing the app.

Compatible OS: Windows, Android, iOS

Pros:

  • Text, voice, and video calls
  • OpenChat to meet new people with similar interests
  • Timeline to share daily stories with your friends
  • LinePay – sending or receiving money easily

Cons:

  • Calls to a landline are not free
  • A bit too many features

🔒 Best Apps for Privacy and Security in 2021

Messaging apps offer you a free and straightforward way to communicate with family, friends, and colleagues. But before you go out to search app stores or take recommendations from your friends, make sure to examine each app’s security and privacy practices in protecting your data privacy.

One key feature you should always look for is end-to-end encryption (E2EE). Without encryption, your private messages can be read by the company and any third parties like governments. Today, data is money, and most social media platforms sell hyper-targeted advertising based on algorithmically mining every second of the users’ lives.

Encryption makes a user free from governments or any data brokers that want to intrude and utilise the data to their benefit. Thankfully, several messaging apps use E2EE to ensure only you and the recipient can read the messages. Also, encryption restrains apps from storing copies of your messages on their servers, which in turn would make them within reach of government authorities.

There are many secure best team chat apps available. Some of them are down here.

1. WhatsApp

WhatsApp is a massively popular messaging app with over a billion active users and end-to-end encryption. The app is free to use, send messages, make voice calls, and video chats on mobile and desktop devices. WhatsApp allows users to send secure messages over Wi-Fi to any user worldwide. However, you have to link your mobile number to sign up on the app. Also, the app has recently been under fire for privacy and security concerns.

You can also attach videos, photos, voice memos, share documents up to 100 MB, and share your location. A considerable advantage of WhatsApp is that you can create chat groups of up to 256 people, letting you connect with the entire family or large team groups.

Another catchy feature is status sharing, while WhatsApp Business serves the small business community. That allows them to link their WhatsApp to Facebook and Instagram business pages, where customers can easily ask questions or schedule services.

A compelling reason to use WhatsApp is that everyone else is already using it, but it’s not only that. The app comes with pretty strong security features with end-to-end encryption between users and is pretty smooth to use for everyone. You only need a phone number to get started on the app.

Compatible OS: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, KaiOS

Pros:

  • End-to-end encryption
  • Free and pretty handy
  • No need to sign up; only need a mobile number
  • Automatically imports contacts
  • Ads-free

Cons:

  • Vulnerable to scams
  • Face filters missing

2. Viber

With more than 260 million monthly active users, Viber is primarily positioned as a competitor to Skype on mobile. It’s a comprehensive messaging solution offering features like messaging sessions, audio clips, emoticons, stickers, and lets you add locations. It supports audio and video calls and is one of the best group chat apps to communicate with your friends and family.

It’s end-to-end encrypted on all platforms, with colour-codes showing how secure a message is. For example, grey implies encrypted communication, red shows the authentication key has an issue, while green means encrypted communication with a trusted contact.

Compatible OS: macOS, Windows, iOS, Android, HarmonyOS

Pros:

  • Group text messages
  • Free voice and video calls to other Viber users
  • No need to register with usernames and passwords
  • Offers cheap calling to mobile and landline numbers

Cons:

  • Comparatively poor quality than WhatsApp and Skype
  • Not much popular as it once was

3. Messages (formerly iMessage)

Apple’s Messages app is the default messaging app on the ecosystem and packs some tight security features. The app encrypts all communication between users. Also, the app permits users to control how long the message stays up, and the times the recipient can view it (the feature is only available to those who have iOS 10 and above).

From sending messages to sending money with Apple Pay, you can get a lot from the iMessage app. With much better group conversations, sharing full-size photos and videos, the platform feels much more complete. You can also backup your iMessage conversations that sync across all your Apple devices.

Compatible OS: macOS, iOS

Pros:

  • End-to-end encryption
  • Stickers
  • Memoji and Animoji
  • Backup your messages

Cons:

  • Only Apple devices (signed into iCloud)
  • Ties your number and device

Useful Read: Best WhatsApp Alternatives 2021

4. Wire

Wire apps might not be as recognisable as WhatsApp or Viber. It offers strong privacy and security features. It’s a solid option for businesses needing an extra security layer geared towards personal use. In today’s world, where most companies are going remote, companies encourage co-workers to communicate online.

Wire offers both a secure and complete means of collaboration and productivity for teams. A more efficient collaboration platform, eliminating tiring back-and-forth emails with simple messaging. You can create groups for teams or projects and share sensitive documents on an end-to-end encrypted platform.

From ten seconds to four weeks, disappearing messages make sure only the intended person reads the message. Send a secure link, add guests to a group without giving any third-party access to all communication channels.

Compatible OS: Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android

Pros:

  • Strong security
  • Excellent call and video quality
  • Video conference tool
  • End-to-end encryption
  • Self-destructing messages

Cons:

  • Focus on the corporate market, not perfect for personal use
  • A small number of users

5. Telegram

It is a fun social messaging platform with security, but it’s not as airtight as some other secure messaging services. Telegram has become more like a social network from a mere messaging app for building groups and unique communities with shared interests. Also, you can find a wide array of unique stickers.

You can message, create group conversations, call contacts, send files, make video calls and send stickers. The headline feature is privacy, employing end-to-end encryption, though it’s only used in calls and “secret chats,” not in regular chats. The company uses MTProto to encrypt your messages.

The platform relies on the cloud, storing all your messages and photos on a secure server. That will allow you to access them from any connected device, making it more multi-platform friendly. Telegram’s other security feature is its usernames, only sharing your username with people giving you more control over what information is out there.

Compatible OS: macOS, Windows, Linux, Android, iOS

Pros:

  • Group chat and unique channels
  • Voice and video chat
  • Cross-platform
  • Loads of stickers

Cons:

  • Not every message is end-to-end encrypted
  • No group video calls

6. Signal

Since its release in 2014, Signal has been the darling of the information security community. The app, by default, comes loaded with client-side end-to-end encryption for video calls, voice calls, and instant messages with its own security protocol.

Signal Private Messenger puts privacy and security first with an uncompromising app that doesn’t exploit its user-base. It’s a free and open-source messaging application with top-notch privacy and security advocates. You can also send self-destructing messages with a minimum amount of data logging.

Compatible OS: Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android

Pros:

  • Multi-platform support
  • Group chat, voice, and video calls
  • End-to-end encryption

Cons:

  • Limited fun features
  • Not that seamless as some less secure competitors

7. Wickr Messenger

Wickr Messenger offers almost everything you could ask from a secure personal messenger. The app is client-side end-to-end encrypted and allows you to register anonymously, something rare in the space. No one and not even the engineers at the company can decrypt your messages.

From text to audio and one-on-one video calls, group messaging to file, and location sharing. You can virtually do everything you need in today’s ecosystem. But much like the messages on Snapchat, your messages are ephemeral. Ephemeral messages disappear (self-destruct) after a set amount of time specified in the settings.

The US DoD approved the product for secure communications with AES-256, ECDH512, and HMAC-SHA256. Perfect Forward Secrecy and digital shredding make it stand out.

Compatible OS: Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android

Pros:

  • Messages and media with user-defined lifetime
  • Secure layers of encryption system
  • Content shredder
  • Group and media messages

Cons:

  • Limited user base
  • Ultra-secure means no syncing among devices

🧮 More Alternatives Tools – Anonymous chat

Suppose you’re looking for the best anonymous chat apps that offer you to stay behind the curtains and enjoy the communication. You’re at the right place; some of the most famous anonymous chat apps are here.

1. Chatous

Chatous social networking app offers you to chat with strangers on random and specific topics. The app randomly matches people across the world for chat sessions. It is sometimes referred to as a dating platform, where users can share pictures while chatting.

This app also ensures to protect your anonymity while allowing you to do video chatting and share photos. Chatous allows you to find people interested in topics you care about with the help of “#” hashtags. You’ll connect to someone who chose the same tag. The latest regulations state that no one under the age of 18 can use the app to prevent children from using the app.

Compatible OS: Android, iOS

Pros:

  • Meet new people anonymously
  • Random chat groups
  • Share photos, video, and audio

Cons:

  • Prone to cyberbullying
  • Vulgar content

2. Connected2.me

Connected2.me is a chatting app that allows you to connect with friends and meet new people from all over the world. The app is a one-on-one chat service that will enable you to chat with strangers anonymously. With the shuffle option, you can instantly connect to any stranger’s chat room.

When you sign up on the platform, you get a profile. Anyone who visits your profile can chat with you with an anonymous nickname. It’s up to users’ preference to share their profile links publicly, which will allow anyone to chat with you.

Compatible OS: iOS, Android

Pros:

  • Anonymously chat with anyone
  • Shuffle feature to connect with strangers
  • Anonymous nickname

Cons:

  1. Prone to cyberbullying
  2. Vulgar content

3. Holla

Another popular social networking app that offers you to connect with random strangers anonymously. The app comes with a live swipe card allowing users to meet people nearby and hang out with strangers via video chat. You can do voice chats and video chats along with regular text chats. Simply swipe, match, and meet new people to chat without sharing your details.

Compatible OS: Android, iOS

Pros:

  • Anonymously chat with anyone
  • Voice and video calls
  • Auto matching feature

Cons:

  • Prone to cyberbullying
  • Vulgar content

How to Choose the Best Messaging App for You?

It’s essential to choose the right app and distinguish between the features they’re offering. Many apps claim to be the best free chat app or the best team chat app, but you need to compare a few features to know which app suits your needs.

Seamless Syncing and Multiple Devices

Today it’s pretty standard for a person to use multiple devices at any given time. So, the best chat app that you select should seamlessly sync on multiple devices simultaneously. That will allow you to switch between devices easily without losing information or any delay in communication.

Security

Another essential aspect you should look for before selecting the best video chat app with strangers is security. Many apps claim to offer protection and privacy, but you need to make sure the app you choose provides industry-standard encryption. End-to-end encryption makes your data and communication secure, so always look for it.

Other Communication Features

Everyone loves apps that offer additional features. Many best live chat apps make it easier for you to keep all the communication on a single platform with audio, video, file sharing, large group, chatting, and much more in a single solution.

✨ Conclusion

Picking one of the best chat apps is, in essence, problematic, as you can’t just use one. Some of your friends will be on Facebook Messenger, others on Talk Home App, and security geeks will be on Whatsapp. You can try to guide your friends and family towards one platform or the other, but remember, you might need to compromise and pick a platform your friends already use.

It’s up to your needs and wants to determine which app is the best chat app for you. You might go directly with the app that some of your friends and family are already using.

FAQs:

Some of the frequently asked questions regarding the best chat apps are answered by our experts.

What is the best anonymous chat app?

No one today can imagine themselves without chatting online. But with all the advantages you might land some problems too. If you’re not sure, the private information you share will be safe and hidden from prying eyes. You need to ensure you’re using the best anonymous chat apps.

Although it is up to your choice which anonymous chat app you select, according to the user reviews and our research findings, the best anonymous app is Chatous.

Chatous anonymous app allows you to chat with strangers about your selected topics. The app will randomly match you with people for one-on-one chat sessions worldwide.

What is the best chat app for Android?

It all comes down to precisely what you want from your chat app. Whether security is your primary concern, extensive functionality sways you, or you love over-the-top customisation.

There aren’t any best chat apps for Android. One might vouch for WhatsApp while another will go for Talk Home App, and some might say Telegram is by far the best messenger app. Therefore, you need to look for features like end-to-end encryption or “secret” chats, ability to send multimedia, voice, and video calls.

  • Talk Home App – Best for cheap international calling
  • Signal – Most secure
  • WhatsApp – Convenient
  • Facebook Messenger – Added functionalities
  • Telegram – Best for chat rooms/channels

What is the best group video chat app?

Video chat apps are a great way to stay connected during these social isolation times. The COVID pandemic has made group video chat apps even more compelling and the need of the hour to keep in touch with family, friends, and co-workers.

Zoom Meeting – Overall Best Group Video Chat App

The best group video chat app that has grown in popularity since the rise of the pandemic is Zoom Meeting. Zoom can be used on desktop and mobile phones alike.

Zoom comes in both free and paid tiers. The free option only supports up to 100 participants per video, limiting 40 minutes per session. It can also run in the desktop browser window if you don’t want to download the app. The app supports all major operating systems, i.e., Windows, macOS, Android, iOS.

Skype, Google Duo, FaceTime, Microsoft Teams, and Facebook Messenger apps fall right behind or better in some areas. If you keep digging, you might confuse yourself with each app focusing on one or two key features. Not all group video chat apps can offer you everything. Therefore, you have to make your priorities straight and enjoy one app.

Which app is best for video chat with strangers?

Meeting strangers is exciting, isn’t it? You will love the best random video chat app to chat with strangers. Many people do it for casual talks while some go further to find people with similar interests and make new friends.

However, these apps should not be used by underage youth by exercising caution to avoid predators, cybercriminals, or cons. One of the best apps for video chat with strangers is Bigo live.

Bigo Live – Best live-stream and random video chat app

Bigo live allows you to video chat with strangers one-on-one, live-stream yourself, or make a video call with a large group. It’s generally known as a multi-visitor space to talk with multiple people at any given moment.

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