Text messaging usage is declining. A recent study by market research company Informa found that we are now sending more messages using instant messaging services like Whatsapp or Viber than regular text messages. But what are the best alternative apps for texting and what makes them so successful?

With a constantly increasing market share of smartphones, users don’t need to pay for text messages anymore to get in touch with their friends. You only need a mobile internet- or WiFi connection and you’re good to go. It’s also more convenient to be able to communicate to your friends or colleagues using a desktop client while they’re on-the-go.

This article will show you the five most used instant messaging services, explain the differences and tell you why you can probably cancel your text messaging subscription.

Table of Contents

Five Best Instant Messaging Apps

WhatsApp

  • Free single contact- and group messaging
  • Location-, file-, contact- and picture sharing
  • Linked to your mobile phone number

WhatsApp has a decent market share in Europe with up to 97% of all smartphone users in Spain using the texting service. Being on the market since 2009, it was one of the first cross-platform messaging apps. Since it is linked to your mobile phone number, a sim card (or mobile number) is required to use WhatsApp. Unfortunately there is no desktop client available. The app also won’t work on tablets.

Download WhatsApp for iOS | Android

Viber

  • Free calling, single contact- and group text messaging
  • Photo- and video messages with location-sharing
  • Desktop clients for Windows and MacOS

Viber has been available since 2010 and was one of the first apps to offer free calling on smartphones. I personally like how the app integrates into the Android UI offering a great user experience. With desktop clients being available for Windows and MacOS, you can also easily reach a Viber user on-the-go from your computer. Some users are reporting issues with Viber and custom roms, which might be experienced as a disadvantage.

Download Viber for iOS | Android

Facebook Messenger

  • Free single contact- and group messaging
  • Photo sharing
  • Integrated to the Facebook website

Every Facebook user should be familiar with Facebook’s chat function. Although the Facebook website integrates Skype functionalities like Video calling, these features are not available in the mobile apps. With a huge user base, Facebook Messenger is a great tool to talk to your friends.

Download Facebook Messenger for iOS | Android

Messages

  • Free single contact- and group messaging
  • Photo- and video sharing
  • Clients available for iOS and MacOS devices

Messages is Apple’s instant messenger program that works on iOS and MacOS devices. This might be a problem because people without such devices are simply left out. The same applies for Apple’s video chat software FaceTime.

Messages is automatically installed on iOS and MacOS devices

Google Hangouts

  • Free single contact- and group messaging
  • Photo sharing & Video calling
  • Clients available for mobile devices and in form of browser extensions

Google Hangouts offers different features like cross-device availability, a desktop version and both text- and video messaging. With the app being quite new, some bugs are still around and it’s not perfect yet. If you want to learn more about Google Hangouts, check out Daniel’s recently published review.

Download Google Hangouts for iOS | Android

Conclusion

Most text (and video-) messaging apps basically offer the same service. With even more apps available than listed in this article, it boils down to which App is mostly used in your social circle. I personally use Google Hangouts, Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger to cover the majority of my social contacts and it works quite well.

Do you still send text messages? What’s your favourite instant messaging service? Share your thoughts in the comments below!