Here are the alternative apps you can have on your phone for communicating. All of them are cross-platform and compatible with your PC as well as with iPhone or Android devices. So, select what’s the most attractive to you.
And remember: even the best messenger is no good if your contacts aren’t in. So, you better check several alternatives and see what your contact list looks like in each.
Signal is an open-source cross-platform messenger, developed by a group of enthusiasts and distributed for non-profit reasons. Its source code is always published on GitHub, so everyone competent enough can check it and report bugs, vulnerabilities or backdoors if any of them is found.
The killer feature of Signal is security. Its encryption system is rated as the most secure of all the messengers available.
As for features, Signal has exactly what a modern messenger should have. Its primary identifier is your phone number. After confirmation and authentication, you can make voice and video calls and send messages and files to other Signal contacts. Exactly like you do in WhatsApp.
Is it that perfect substitute? In fact, not, unless you persuade all your contacts to switch to Signal, or at least install it as a second messenger. For that you can just send invitations from Signal as regular SMS.
Con: not so popular.
If you mostly communicate informally and emotionally, you probably like sending and receiving all those graphic smiles, kisses, flowers, thumbs up, and the big stickers showing that regular emoji aren’t expressive enough. Then here comes Viber by Rakuten.
In fact, this messenger has all the features of WhatsApp. It supports unlimited texting, sending pictures and locations, video and voice calls, group chats, and even built-in games. And it’s quite popular: there are few countries listing it as #1, but almost all over the world it’s in the Top 5.
But the most distinct feature of Viber is its treasury of stickers and emoji. You can select pets, cartoon characters, popular mascots, and characters invented on purpose, to express your emotions. Even paid ones can be available for free if sponsored, or as a reward for active communication.
Pro: the most emotional messenger.
Con: but once you get locked into a serious sticker collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.
In fact, Telegram is more than a messenger: it’s a text-centric messaging and blogging app, two-in-one. The messaging part of Telegram is familiar, with one useful exception: you can send messages to yourself as well. A useful feature when you need to transfer a picture or some text between your devices. On the other hand, Telegram has no video calls and no plans for that.
As for the blogging part, you can create a public channel with your account and post anything you want. So far your posts can only be read, but the team is working on implementing comments. The rumor has it that Telegram is to introduce its own cryptocurrency soon.
Security features include end-to-end encryption and possibility to hide your phone number; but still those who have it will see it connected to your account.
Pro: secure and social.
Con: no video calls.
Of course, this app by Microsoft can be used for private communication, but rather it’s a tool for creating group chats (just like it says on the tin). It also supports sending pictures, locations, links and all the types of data regularly shared in groups.
You can use your Microsoft or Facebook accounts to log in or create an independent account with your email. Still, it needs to access your phone book and fetch the contacts from there.
Pro: great for group chats at work and at your party.
Con: it can’t replace your WhatsApp experience.
If you want something resembling WhatsApp up to the color of the logo, here comes LINE. It’s a messenger with functionality very similar to all the messengers like WhatsApp. It also needs your phone number as an ID and your phone book as the base to fetch your LINE contacts.
Though LINE is mostly popular in East Asia (Japan, South Korea), but also it has its fans in America and Middle East. If you communicate with friends or colleagues from these Asian countries, you’ll access them easier, and they’ll appreciate.
Pro: all the features of a modern messenger, useful for contacts with Asia.
Con: not as popular in the rest of the world.
There are other messaging apps (or rather services) also worth attention, at least in one sentence. Some of them are only popular locally; say, WeChat is mostly used in China, IMO in Central Asia, and KakaoTalk in South Korea. Google Hangouts, formally sharing the same functionality, didn’t get as popular; as for iMessage, it only works with Apple devices.