Best Android Messaging Apps Android Central 2021
Communicating on your phone has gone far beyond simple SMS messages and voice calls. We have social messengers, secret messengers, professional messengers, and power-packed messengers, so it can be challenging to settle on which services are worth your time. If you need a little help deciding what to use to ask your friends if they're free for coffee or ranting with gifs about the latest episode and what morons you favorite characters are being, here are our favorites.
- Adaptable and data-light: WhatsApp Messenger
- Simplified security: Signal Private Messenger
- For professionals and pro-memers: Slack
- Get your game chat on: Discord
- A favorite from Asia: LINE: Free Calls & Messages
- I'm not dying: Hangouts
- Because everyone has Facebook: Facebook Messenger
- Snap it: Snapchat
- Create a community: Telegram
- More of a platform: WeChat
- Chat, coordinate, or share: GroupMe
- Unlimited everything: Viber Messenger
WhatsApp is one of the most popular messengers in the world, with encrypted multimedia chat, VoIP voice and video calls, and a drop-dead setup. We liked WhatsApp more before it got bought by Facebook, but the service itself is still decent, widely-used, and in many places is more reliable than SMS, so it's still well worth its spot as our top recommendation.
Signal has been one of the most well-trusted secure messaging systems on the block for years. It's absolutely free and uses end-to-end encryption protocol to ensure your privacy with every message you send. It uses your already existing phone number, so there are no extra hoops to jump through like a new password or username.
We've used Slack for our in-company chatting for as long as I've worked at Android Central. I was shocked to learn that Slack was available for regular users alongside its corporate use, but whether you just want to Slack your classmates with some choice gifs or need to talk to your boss about your schedule, Slack is incredible, and I love it.
Discord is part IRC chat, part message board, and all awesome. It's aimed more at group chatting than individual conversations. Still, it's available on just about any platform you can think of, it's easy to manage, share, and moderate. Its gamer-centric focus has made it a very, very responsive service that's quick to update and expand.
LINE might not be as popular in the West (yet), but this Japan-based service is one of the most popular in Asia, with over 600 million users and a whole suite of communication, payment, and gaming apps under the LINE name. LINE is well-made and easy to use, but it's been slow to spread in America, even with its nine adorable mascots.
Reports of Hangouts impending "death" are highly exaggerated. While the classic Hangouts app might be sunset in a few years, the Hangouts service will continue with Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet, the latter of which we've been enjoying for our team meetings for months. Hangouts is still one of the easiest to adopt since it uses your Google account.
Facebook has done some pretty despicable things in the last few years. Still, Facebook Messenger continues to be one of the more-used messenger apps around by the simple value of everyone and their grandmother having a Facebook account. It has some nice features, but it also has some annoying and invasive ones, too.
Snapchat may be better classified as a social media network. Still, Snapchat is based around messaging, and millions fell in love with its self-deleting photos and ease of use as a way to trash talk frenemies, send pictures/videos that you don't want spreading around school, and of course its many selfie filters.
Telegram seems to be one of the fastest-growing messaging platforms, thanks to its versatility. You can create groups with up to 200,000 members, along with quickly sharing documents and other files. Plus, the app is super-quick, and you don't have to worry about paying anything to get additional features.
WeChat has become so large that the company introduced "WeChat Pay" as a way to pay your friends back after a long night out on the town. The app offers group chats with up to 500 participants, along with voice and video calls (including group video calls). But there are additional third-party services that can integrate with the app, without needing to download anything extra on your phone, to enhance your experience.
The unique aspect to GroupMe is that you can either download the app for messaging, or connect your phone number and use SMS. But when using the app, you'll have more control over your notifications, and if you want to keep the good times rolling, you can access GroupMe from the browser.
With end-to-end encryption, and the ability to make free audio and video calls, you can't look past Viber Messenger. Secret chats will self destruct. You can create a "Viber Community" and add a slew of extensions to enhance your chats even further. The only catch is that you may have to pay if you need to make a phone call to a landline with "Viber Out."
For years, folks were begrudgingly using Skype for video or voice chats due to the lack of other options. That has since changed, and the app is continually being updated to improve and bring more features. You can now even use Skype as a replacement SMS app while keeping up with your other Skype messages and video chats.
Kik is another messaging app that has been around for years, and for a good reason, as the service is just solid overall. You can chat with your friends and family, but there's even a unique "Stranger Chat" mode that lets you spread out and talk to different Kik users around the globe. And you'll get all of the expected features like GIFs, videos, and the ability to play some games.
Normally, we wouldn't include Google Messages, but with the recent addition of RCS features, Messages can serve more like a chat application. You'll be able to send or receive messages wherever you are while getting the most out of what Google offers from its own SMS app. And you can even send chats or standard SMS in your favorite browser, so you can keep chatting without your head buried in your phone.
Security is paramount
Even if all you intend to do on your messaging service is talk to some buddies and maybe plan some jewel heists— I mean surprise parties — you should care about your messaging service being secure and trustworthy. Of the services listed here, all of these support two-factor authentication, and several of them support encryption for messages, including WhatsApp, Signal, and Snapchat.
Self-deleting messages and notifications of when messages are screenshotted or reshared gives Snapchat some extra appearance of security. Still, there are ways around those protocols, and Snapchat's had issues of self-deleting photos not getting deleted from their servers before. On the other hand, the ability to delete specific messages permanently from a group chat is a nice feature on Signal that I wish would come to more services. Still, at least services like WhatsApp having the ability to unsend a message a few minutes after an accidental send is nice.
How many friends can you convince to switch?
The problem with picking a messenger app is that usually, you can't just use one. Some friends will be on Facebook, some will be on Whatsapp, and there's that one weirdo that still uses Hangouts — my family still uses Hangouts just about every day for our group chats. You can try and guide your friends towards one platform or another, but remember that you may need to compromise and pick a platform your friends already use.
There's a good reason why WhatsApp takes the crown for being or favorite, as it's still widely used to the point that some friends and family may be using it. You won't have to worry about creating usernames as this works off your phone number, and you can import contacts easily. Then, create group chats or have video calls to stay in contact with everyone you need to.
Perhaps the more common choice will end up being Facebook Messenger as just about everyone, and their brother has this already. You can have group video calls with up to eight people, use Messenger as your SMS app, and even send money back and forth if need be. Facebook has also made it so you can play some games in the app with your friends to keep up some type of competition to spark some awesome trash talk.