Why are there so many social chat apps out there today? Facebook owns two of them – Messenger and WhatsApp. Google has almost half a dozen different chat apps. Everyone has their own favorite, of course, and they will ask you, “Are you on WhatsApp? Line? Tango? Kik?” or whatever their choice happens to be. It sometimes seems like you are expected to have all of these apps downloaded on your smartphone just in case one of your friends or family members wants to contact you on one.
Why Chat Apps?
You might wonder why people use social chat apps at all. If they have a smartphone, why not just text on the native text app available there? There are a couple of reasons for that. First, the text service on your phone plan might be limited to how many texts you can send in a month, and sending media like pics and video might come with another fee. Then there are those plans that let you text freely to others on the same mobile provider but texts to people on other company’s plans is not free.
Another reason is that social chat apps are much more than texting apps. On WhatsApp, you can make phone calls all over the world absolutely free. Kik Messenger has a bot shop, meme generator, and other fun tools on board. Line is well known for its lineup of games. There are many other examples of chat apps being far more social and immersive than a regular phone text service.
Well, having every single one of them may not be absolutely necessary, but the top half dozen or so would be a good idea. There is no need to have all of them open and active all the time. When you get a message, there will be a push notification that lets you know it is waiting for you. That’s when you open the app to respond and enjoy your chat.
When you install a chat app, there is always a way to let it search your phone book or contact list to find other people already using the app. That gives you a chance to add people you already know on the service. Once you are in each app’s network, people new to the app or those who scan for users regularly will find you and then add you to their contact list. It’s then a matter of who prefers to use which app that determines where you and your friends chat the most.
Six Chat Apps to Keep
Here is a list of a half dozen apps you should consider keeping on your smartphone. They are among the most popular and that means they are the ones a friend or loved one is most likely to use to reach out to you. Just keep each app on your device and only open it up when you get a notification that someone has sent you a message on it. This is also a great way to learn which social chat app is best for you.
Using your phone number as your account handle, WhatsApp lets you send chat and text messages to anyone you like as long as you have their phone number. You can also make phone calls including international calls absolutely free. The app has always been ad-free but once charged a $.99 annual fee. A few people might have neglected to download the app because of that, but the fee is gone now that WhatsApp is owned by Facebook. It is among the most popular social chat apps out there with more than a billion registered users.
A legacy app that integrates with other apps and a host of features, Yahoo! Messenger brings you chat, mail, news, calendar, answers, and more. The messenger app has about 250 million registered users, but anyone with an @yahoo.com email address is already a part of its messenger network, so there’s a good chance you can chat with a lot of friends and family there. Remember, too, that while fewer people have downloaded this app than have some others, a lot of people still use Yahoo! chat from their home computers. People without an @yahoo.com can register with Yahoo! Messenger and other services using their existing email.
Kik Messenger is just about the most popular app for the younger group. Although I have a bit longer than just recently left that demographic, I keep it for that very reason. About 40% of American teens are on Kik and the majority of users on its network are between 13 and 24 years old. I have a few family members and a couple of friends in that age range that use Kik, so I keep it on my smartphone. Considering how young the average user is, Kik is widely used with about 300 million registered users. It’s a really neat app, too. I have to admit to enjoying some of the chat bots, especially the one that plays tic tac toe.
Touting 754 million registered users, Viber lets you send free text, video, and pictures. Its wink feature lets you set a self-destruct timer on any text, video, or photo you send with a limit of 1 to 10 seconds for the receiver to see it, and then it’s gone. The app also supports phone calls and video chats.
Enjoy a group chat with up to 200 of your closest friends and loved ones when you use Line. With 600 million registered users, this app also has a timeline where you can keep friends up to date on what you’re doing, and a GPS feature that lets you share your current location with them. A lot of people like this app for the many games available through it.
Another app to join the billion downloads mark is Facebook’s Messenger. As we all know, the Messenger app is designed and intended to integrate with the main Facebook site. That makes it super easy to chat with people you share your Facebook timeline with every single day in the first place. Most of the people you know are probably already on Facebook with you, and you have probably already friended them, so having Messenger on your smartphone is a natural.
Now, there is always a chance that you are not a member on Facebook just yet. Maybe not yet and maybe not wanting to be. A lot of people prefer to not be a part of Facebook because of privacy concerns. Most of those concerns can be alleviated by choosing the right privacy settings on your account, but nothing is foolproof, of course.
Privacy issues aren’t the only reason people don’t want to be a part of Facebook. Some just don’t have the time; others do not want to risk a new addiction. A cousin of mine will not sign up because she has a feeling she would spend far too many hours looking at all her friends’ pages, sending messages, reading posts and all that goes with it. I know others who want nothing to do with Facebook because of perceived political bias and the blocking of certain views that are all a part of free speech. There are lots of reasons people would just rather not be part of the world’s largest social network. A lot of us who use it were slow in coming to it for many of those same reasons.
The good news here is that you are not required to have a Facebook account to use Facebook’s Messenger app. It is a little easier and more fun in some ways to connect with other friends using the app if everyone is in Facebook, but you can download and install the app, and then login with your phone number. Facebook will verify that it is your phone number by sending you a text, of course, but after this quick confirmation you are all set up to use Facebook Messenger without having a Facebook account.
Be sure to let the app check your contact list so that it can match you by phone number with others using the app, both in and out of Facebook. A lot of Facebook users include their phone number on the account for verification purposes and to let people find them (it is not published on your page, of course).
Facebook is huge. A large percentage of people you know have an account there. Once you connect with all of them, this might be the app you turn to most often when wanting to chat with friends and family. To add a contact that doesn’t come up in your search, just put in the person’s phone number and they are on your contact list if they accept your request.
Messenger is a really good app to choose for that, too. It is easy to share pictures and videos, both your own and ones you find interesting on the web. You can get together with several friends at once in a group chat. Like any other social chat worth its salt, Messenger has several collections of cool stickers and emoji to dress up your messages, too.
Another great thing about Facebook’s Messenger is how you can make phone calls to anyone, anywhere in the world for free when using a Wi-Fi connection.
Messenger is a really good social chat app. When you are looking at which apps to have on your phone, don’t be put off from it thinking you have to have a Facebook account, because you don’t. It’s open to everyone wanting to enjoy a great conversation.