Maybe you use Kik and are curious about some of the other messaging apps that are out there. Or maybe you’re not signed up for Kik yet, and want to know what else is out there before you commit to an app (as if any specific app is really a commitment, although, I reckon it can be argued because messaging apps do involve having other committed friends with which to message, but more on that later). Either way, you’ll be glad to know that we have some Kik Alternatives that you may want to consider.
Some of these Kik Alternatives are brand names, and some have remained just on the edge of perception. All of them though have a decent user base (in terms of size at least), and several of them do some very unique things.
It is the characteristic excellence of the strong man that he can bring momentous issues to the fore and make a decision about them. The weak are always forced to decide between alternatives they have not chosen themselves. — Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Kik Alternatives: Messaging Apps like Kik Messenger to Text Friends
In this consideration of Kik alternatives, I’m not just looking for apps that provide messaging services. I’m looking at some of the ones that aren’t getting quite the attention of Kik, or Apple Messages, or something like that. At the same time, I’m not giving a lot of consideration to little, podunk apps that hang out on the fringes of your platform’s app purchasing service.
I’m excluding these, not because I’m a total jerk, but because there are a couple of things that I consider non-negotiable in something like a messaging app. First of all, I want something with a big enough user base that some of my friends are already on it — or I can at least persuade some of my friends to get on it. Second, a certain size and age to the app suggests longevity, and a mature approach to design and security. I don’t want to lean too hard on something that just came out, in case it’s going to jack up my phone or create some sort of exploit. (Of course, the size can also be a detriment, as a certain level of popularity may make it more attractive to hackers and other malcontents.
So, with those provisos aside, let’s go forth:
Honorable Mention) Snapchat
I’m mainly mentioning this one in order to not mention it. Yes, Snapchat is great. Goodness knows we here at Appamatix have spent plenty of time on it. But since Snapchat has so much market dominance right now, I don’t think it really needs us to recommend it. For those who aren’t super-familiar with this messenger, it’s famous for its self-deleting messages. We cover it in more detail here and here. But as I was saying, I’m mainly including it to head off any comments of “What about Snapchat?” It’s a fine app, and it serves a very specific need, but let’s take another look at some of the also-rans that are out there when we’re thinking of Kik alternatives.
Some users, particularly users outside of the US, may be rolling their eyes as I trot out WhatsApp. After all, WhatsApp has 900 Million users. Of course, some readers may wonder where those users are coming from? Because, in US borders, WhatsApp is just one of a large number of messaging apps. But outside our borders this is the most popular app. In terms of global popularity of social platform apps, WhatsApp is currently number two (just ahead of Facebook’s Messenger, and just behind Facebook itself… here I feel like I should mention that Facebook owns WhatsApp).
WhatsApp’s big design philosophy is that it’s a really pared down experience. Whereas most apps offer all kinds of frill, bells, and whistles, WhatsApp seeks only to provide a light weight alternative to SMS messaging, one that uses WiFi instead of the finite number of monthly texts that are still the hallmark of certain phone carriers.
Like WhatsApp and Snapchat, YikYak has a unique approach to messaging. But instead of an emphasis on light weight design, or self-deleting messages, YikYak focuses on physical proximity. You see, most apps, you choose a username, and then you can communicate with people all over the world — distance ceases to become a factor. But with YikYak, you don’t choose a user name. Communications are more or less anonymous, but you only communicate with people who are close to you geographically.
Now, because everybody that you’re talking to is going to be close by, you may want to practice extra caution and discernment in terms of what you reveal about yourself in YikYak conversations. But for certain circumstances, YikYak is more useful than any of these others. If you’re listening to a boring lecturer, you and the others in the room can comment on it. (Please note: we here at Appamatix do not endorse students texting during class). Or else, if you’re trying to find a D&D group or something like that in your area, maybe you can start your conversation on YikYak.
But I want to repeat, any time that you make plans to meet with online friends in the real world, you need to be cautious. “Trust, but verify,” as the Cold War wisdom goes. But, assuming responsible and conscientious use, YikYak serves a very specific purpose, largely unserved by any of the other apps we’ve listed here.
LINE doesn’t get a lot of attention these days, but I have to admit that I have a soft spot for it, if for no reason other than that one of the first Appamatix articles was about this app. This app comes out of Japan, and is owned by Naver, Korea’s answer to Google. It was developed in response to the 2011 earthquakes in Japan, which strained Japan’s communications networks beyond the breaking point.
LINE boasts a plethora of handy features. Like Snapchat’s Snapcodes or Kik Messenger’s Kik Codes, this Kik alternative allows you to add users to your contacts list using a special QR code, in addition to usernames and the other usual means. Also, whereas most messaging services are mobile only (requiring some number of workarounds in order to get to work on your computer), LINE embraces the mutli-platform approach, and has desktop versions available for both Mac and PC. Yeah, think of it! Of all of these messaging apps trying desperately to become indispensable to you, this is one of the few that really address what that indispensability necessitates: the ability to use this app on something other than your phone.
Most of its user base is in East Asia, so if you have a lot of friends or family in, say, Japan, you might have a lot more call to use LINE. But even without that, the desktop integration is such a commendable feature that you may consider this Kik alternative even if all of your needs are entirely domestic.
Okay, so take what I said about LINE just a moment ago, and now add VoIP. For those who may have only heard the acronym said, VoIP stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol.” It’s basically a means of calling someone by using the internet instead of your minutes. It’s not always going to be as secure as a phone line, and connection can be spotty, but it can certainly be more cost-effective than making a bunch of international phone calls. Since Viber has offices in Las Vegas, Belarus, Cyprus, and Israel, I think the company is more than sensitive to the needs of people who need to communicate overseas regularly. This is something to really think about if you have a lot of family out of the country, and if you want to actually hear their voices instead of just exchanging texts.
I compared this to LINE from above because, like LINE, Viber recognizes that not everybody who likes to use apps on their smart phones wants to use nothing but smart phones for the rest of their lives. To that end, Viber has desktop versions of its popular app for the major platforms, allowing you to interface with you contact list and the various Viber services using whatever hardware you want to use.
Those are some of the top messaging services out there for those of you who are looking for alternatives to Kik Messenger. Like I said, I tried to focus on some things that aren’t getting all the limelight, but that were big enough that you can use them with a sense of security and community.
But I know there’s something that I’m overlooking. What are some of your favorite Kik alternatives? Or else, do you have any experiences to share with any of the ones I’ve listed here? If so, please let us know in the comments, and we can give this whole “communication” thing a try.