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Mobile Messaging: A User's Guide

What's The Best Way To Say It?

If you’re still texting, you’re way behind the times. It’s not enough to be connected across your social networks – to share your photos on Instagram, your musings on Twitter, your secrets on Whisper – but staying in touch with your friends now means making the choice between any number of varied and sometimes bewilderingly similar messaging apps. With Facebook now forcing mobile users to use a separate Facebook Messenger app to communicate with their friends, picking which way to tell someone you’re going to be late has never been more relevant. Here’s a rundown of some of the bigger players.

instant messaging
Source: huffingtonpost.com


The most popular mobile messaging app, WhatsApp was boughtby Facebook in February for $19 billion. With 450 million users worldwide, that may have been a smart investment. Although WhatsApp is one of the more Spartan of the messaging apps – it doesn’t have a calling feature, and the layout has remained fairly utilitarian since its inception – this basic setup seems to be succeeding in being all things to all people.

Facebook Messenger

The second most popular messaging service (although since Facebook also owns WhatsApp it’s something of a moot point) and, since being divorced from the parent app, should really now be considered on its own terms. Perhaps the nicest feature is the pop-out chat head overlay, which allows you to swing in and out of conversations while performing other tasks on your phone. The other advantage, of course, is that since everyone you know already has Facebook there’s no problem in co-ordination.


Similar to WhatsApp in layout and functionality, Kik’s salient feature is privacy: there’s no need to use your number or email address, only a user name which you create. Although with 130 million people using the service, you may have some difficulty in finding a unique handle.


Another one which prizes ease of use over a pile of features, Viber has a large international user base. The main appeal of this app is the ease of voice calling. It uses the phone’s data connection or Wi-Fi to make calls over the internet, including free calls to other Viber users, making it popular with those who make regular calls abroad. The text messaging aspect of the app is also solid, plus it has a nice bunch of animated emojis if you’re into that sort of thing.


The most popular messaging app you've never heard of, WeChat has around 450 million active monthly users – almost all of them in China. Far and away the most popular of such services in Asia, WeChat has yet to make its mark on the Western mobile market. It’s certainly not a lack of options which holds it back, though. WeChat allows you to do everything from message to call to send emojis and music to connect with strangers nearby also using the app. It’s a varied and powerful tool, and well worth keeping an eye on.


Always worth a mention, Snapchat incorporated a messaging function earlier this year alongside its self-destructing photo service. While the company refuses to disclose user numbers, it’s worth betting that most people you know are already enthusiastic users of the app. The text messaging function is fairly minimalist, and messages disappear once they've been read, but the ease of reply with either text or photos makes it an attractive option for the casual user.

Douglas is an English Literature graduate who has written about everything from music to food to theatre, now a content creator for Social Media Frontiers. No topic too large or too small. Follow him @DouglasAtSMF.

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Mobile Messaging: A User's Guide Reviewed by Anonymous on Tuesday, August 05, 2014 Rating: 5
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