Released in 2011, Messenger is the companion communication app for Facebook. Messenger allows people to see who is online (aka available to chat, or scrolling down their feed), see when a message has been sent and received, and chat to anyone they are “connected” with.
To find more connections, you can link Messenger to your Instagram account or Contacts on your phone. Facebook Messenger can also connect to a few other apps and games, like Words with Friends, so that you can easily find who you want to play or chat with.
+ Connection: You are instantly connected with all of your friends on Facebook, without the need to convince them to download a certain messaging app.
+ Collaboration: You can also create group chats to collaborate with other people, for leisure or business purposes. You can share files and links within the chat too.
- Privacy: Facebook’s privacy conditions are sometimes sceptical.
- Battery: The Messenger app is always running in the background, which can drain your battery life. Receiving notifications also contributes to this.
- Storage: Facebook and Messenger combined will use up over 100MB of space on your device, so if you don’t have a lot of storage available, these apps might become a problem for you.
Released in 2009, WhatsApp has taken the world by storm, with more than 2 billion users worldwide. WhatsApp allows you to send photos, messages (text and audio), documents, and videos to other people who have WhatsApp downloaded.
You can find contacts with their phone number.
+ Identity: WhatsApp recognises you by your phone number, so there’s no need to set up an account and remember a password. You are found and messaged with your phone number.
+ Privacy: Messages are secured with end-to-end encryption, and you can also choose how to backup your messages.
+ Collaboration: You can participate in group messages for business or leisure.
- No face filters: WhatsApp do not have any face filters available, like some of the other social media apps do.
- Wi-Fi: WhatsApp marketed itself initially off being able to send messages without Wi-Fi or data, but this isn’t always true now, as messages don’t always send when you’re out and about.
- Also owned by Facebook: If you’re trying to steer clear of the social media giant, Facebook, you’ll also have to avoid using WhatsApp.
Snapchat has 203 million daily users worldwide since its release in 2011. With its quick, instantaneous, and self-destructive style of messaging, Snapchat is a popular form of communication. As well as messages, Snapchat also has a “Story” function, where people can share videos of their day that expire in 24 hours, and read through news articles that refresh daily.
Users have to create an account with a username and password, and then search names and accounts to find friends.
+ Self-destructive: Messages do not stay or pack up in your history. Pictures and videos are sent to people, and then self-destruct when they click off or in 10 seconds.
+ Content: Content is short, quick, and easy to digest, which is more engaging and comfortable for many users. It also won’t take up a lot of space on your device, as the content disappears relatively quickly.
+ Visibility: You can see who has viewed your story, so you know who is watching your videos. From a personal level, this may be effective, but from a business level, you can also judge your audience’s interest.
- Limited: The self-destructive option might be a con for many people, who like to view content for longer or save it to refer back to later. If you’re a business, your content will disappear after 24 hours, so there’s more pressure to put more out every day in order to keep your audience engaged.
- Irrelevant: Most of the content you view may be irrelevant. Snapchat offers recommendations for stories to view, but they could be from people you’ve never heard of or aren’t interested in.
- Interface: The swiping interface can glitch out sometimes due to the lack of active buttons. If it misinterprets your hand movements, you could end up somewhere on the app where you didn’t want to be.
Skype is a video app that was released in 2003. Nowadays, it has around 300 million users. Skype allows you to physically see the people you’re talking to. There is also a chat option for if you don’t want to appear on video.
+ Collaboration: Skype is an effective app for collaborating. You can share screens with the other people on your chat. This is effective for trying to show colleagues’ presentations and documents without having to physically send the file. Up to 10 people can participate in one group chat, though Skype recommends a maximum of 5 to keep the quality of the video steady.
+ Security: Skype protects your information during a call or message, so its privacy measures are safer than some other communication apps.
+ Easy to install: Installing Skype is a fairly quick and easy task on most devices. Users follow a simple step-by-step to set up an account and get started.
- Glitchy: Sometimes the audio and visual experience can be glitchy due to its weaker service, in comparison to other apps that use video. The quality of the audio, for example, is highly dependent on the bandwidth you have.
- Background noise: Another audio issue you may encounter is how much background noise Skype calls can pick up. They don’t have any features to muffle or filter out surrounding sound, so this can all be pushed through and disrupt your call.
Released in 2013, Slack has become well known as a messaging app designed for businesses. It allows you to privately message colleagues, set up group messages for the whole company to access, tag people to notify them of messages, send links and gifs, as well as video call.
You can connect with people via their work credentials or Google login details. With your own profile, you can set different statuses so others know when you’re available from ‘Active’ and ‘Away’ to ‘At Lunch’ or ‘In A Meeting’.
+ Collaboration: Slack allows companies to work together remotely, connecting through chat and video calls. Up to 1,000 people can be on one messaging channel at the same time.
+ Reduces email traffic: You can directly contact colleagues and friends and share documents or images without having to email people. You can choose how many people you notify or message.
+ Repository: As information is sent over Slack and not by email, you can still access important data even when a colleague leaves or their email is deactivated.
- Distraction: Checking in on Slack could distract you from work, the same way refreshing your email every few minutes. You could quite easily get absorbed in conversation.
- Security: Just be mindful of sharing passwords or files on Slack, as these messages remain buried in the chat, so could pose a security risk if anything were to be hacked or shared.
- Balance: As it’s a messaging app that you can have on your phone as well as your work computer, it can be hard to disconnect from work. You can turn notifications off though if you do find this to be a problem.
These apps are great for staying in contact with friends, family, and business colleagues throughout the day. If you’re looking for more apps to download onto your smartphone or PC, check out our posts on the best apps for the elderly, best podcast apps, top educational apps, and best photo editing apps.