Few mobile applications arouse as many passions as messaging apps: there are those who are from WhatsApp, those who prefer Telegram and those who use a totally different application.
There is no perfect messaging app that gets everyone on the same page, but we’ll take a deep dive into the top options today to shed light on the matter. ¿What is the best messaging app for Android?
What do we ask of a messaging app?
Before we start with our selection of candidates, it is necessary to have a list of what we expect from a mobile messaging application, so that we have a guide to base ourselves on when comparing them between them. Not everyone will give the same importance to the following sections, but this is what we will take into account:
The number of users. In an ideal world, you could talk to anyone using your favorite messaging app, but in reality you depend on your contacts agreeing to use the same app. It depends a lot on your circles, but in general the more users an application has, the easier it will be to find your friends.
Multi-device support. It is becoming more and more common to have a bunch of devices, and ideally you should be able to switch from one to the other to continue your conversation. If it is also possible to follow the conversation on the PC, then all the better.
What can you send. Obviously, all messaging applications allow you to send texts and emojis, but some add more elements to the mix, being able to send files, share the location in real time or video clips.
Group chats. For those who have a large group of friends and contacts, there are big differences between the maximum capacity of the groups in the different messaging applications.
Calls and video calls. While most applications support voice calls, not all include video calls and there are even greater differences when it comes to group video calls.
Encryption and privacy. Some applications encrypt all messages, others only those sent in secret chats. In addition, there are other privacy elements to take into account, such as whether it is necessary to give the phone number for them to start talking to you or whether it is possible to protect the chat with a PIN or password.
Backup copy. Important messages end up in the chats of the messaging applications that you surely don’t want to lose just like that. Some applications make backup and restore easier than others if you change mobile.
stories. Like it or not, the ephemeral format of stories has become a form of communication that some users will miss in applications that do not include it.
Our selection of candidates
Taking all of the above into account, we have made our list with the six most popular messaging apps nowadays. The list includes heavyweights such as WhatsApp, Telegram and Messenger as well as Instagram which, despite the fact that it is not technically a messaging application, is increasingly treading the field of communication.
We start our list with the messaging application par excellence, at least in terms of the number of users. The latest estimates place it around the 2 billion users, the highest figure and to which only Facebook Messenger comes close, from the same creators.
WhatsApp stands out for being light and working well, although it is limited by its own technology
As a messaging application, for years WhatsApp has been governed by “less is more”, standing out for a light and to the point application, without too many distractions. This has changed slightly over time, to the point that the application included video calls and stickers, something that seemed unthinkable five years ago.
There have also been changes for the better in terms of privacy and security, with the arrival of protecting chats with fingerprint and more privacy options, although it still has a certain technological burden worthy of such a veteran application. It is not based on the cloud, so the account can only be used on one device at a time and its PC versions have certain limitations (you need to have your mobile on and online, for example).
The second Achilles heel of WhatsApp is that it is necessary to give your phone number someone to get in touch with you. This helped a lot to attract users, but it is not very practical today.
Since its launch in 2013, Telegram has become the eternal aspirant to the throne of messaging, at least in some regions. It has not managed to harvest a number of users as brutal as that of WhatsApp (the latest figures are 500 million users), but it is proposed as an alternative to it mainly because they have a similar operation, especially in its early days.
Telegram specializes in chat, but leaves aside other aspects such as video calls
Over time, Telegram has been building its own identity, focused mainly on the chat communications, which are much more developed than in WhatsApp, with quick articles, surveys, bots and facilities to make responses, mentions or search for a message. It is noteworthy that groups can be monstrous, with up to 200,000 members.
In the field of privacy, Telegram bets on its own MTProto encryption and end-to-end encryption is exclusive to secret chats, which add some additional features. The best thing about Telegram is that it is as agile as WhatsApp, but cloud-based, so you can switch devices and follow the conversation in seconds, in addition to having all the history at all times.
Telegram has the advantage that it is updated frequently, adding new functions every few weeks. Last year, the application fixed one of its shortcomings by incorporating video calls, as in most of the competition, although it still no group video calls.
For many years Messenger was little more than Facebook’s chat function, but the application ended up becoming its own spin-off, although the rule was recently changed and you need a Facebook account to use Messenger. Its number of monthly users is around 1.3 billion users, being the second most widespread messaging application, after WhatsApp.
Messenger is not as light as WhatsApp or Telegram, although it has the advantage of being able to continue chatting while using other apps
As a messaging app, Facebook Messenger has weighed down an overly heavy app for years, despite continued promises that this would change. Little has changed, although in recent times Facebook’s efforts seem more in integrate Messenger and Instagram (and maybe WhatsApp) than to continue developing them separately.
Facebook Messenger is not the fastest, lightest or most stable messaging application, but it has the main advantage of having the chat bubbles, to be able to reply to messages even if you are doing something else. This advantage, of course, will be less and less important as chat bubbles reach virtually any application with the latest versions of Android.
Although Messenger is not overly good for lifelong chats, Messenger stands out above the rest in the multimedia arena. Calls and Group video calls of up to 50 people, and all this based on the cloud, so you can switch from one device to another without losing anything.
Instagram is a bit the top of our comparison, and it is technically not a messaging application, despite the fact that many people use it precisely as a means of communicating. Its number of users is the third highest, with 1 billion usersAlthough not all of them will use it as a chat application, but to share photos.
Technically Instagram is not a conventional messaging app, but it becomes strong in visual communication, with photos and stories
As a messaging app, Instagram has some shortcomings. Direct feels somewhat like Messenger before it parted ways with Facebook, and it’s somewhat claustrophobic that access is a little icon in the app. It is the application that it limits you more in what you can send to your friends, including the basics: photos, videos, texts and voice notes.
The less you use Instagram to chat and the more you use to send multimedia content, such as photos taken with the camera, the more it stands out. Instagram excels in multimedia communication, either from the Direct part or from the Instagram Stories.
Instagram is cloud based, so you can continue your conversations from the PC application or from the recently released web version. Currently, a good part of Facebook’s efforts are to merge Instagram messaging with Messenger.
Google dumped Allo to focus squarely on its implementation of the RCS standard, something like hyper-vitaminized SMS messages. This implementation is personified in the official message application of the operating system, Android Messages. Unfortunately, we do not have a number of users, so the only indicative value is the download of the application on Google Play: 1 billion.
To this day, Android Messages is still a bit want and can’t until RCS is universal
As a messaging application, the truth is that Android Messages has more or less the same deficiencies that Allo had, has the basics and little else, is based on phone numbers like WhatsApp and relies on other applications (Duo) for video calls, so it forces you to have another app.
It is an acceptable alternative, although it is entirely at the expense of your mobile and operator are compatible with RCS, something that unfortunately is far from being universal today. Without RCS – or chat features, as it’s officially called – you may have to pay per message and lose features like knowing when the other person is typing.
Although messages sent with Android Messages were initially unencrypted, last year Google turned on encryption for everyone messages using RCS. In addition, it has a web version, with a similar operation to WhatsApp.
LINE does not have as much pull in the West as previous applications, although worldwide it is close to the number of Telegram, with 167 million users monthly. It is probably his most popular messaging application, with an aesthetic that is different from the rest …