Surely WhatsApp is the most popular and used messaging app at the moment, with over 2 billion registered users and a presence that reaches almost all over the world. At the same time there are several viable alternatives, with programs that ensure greater privacy and software that offer some really interesting features. Let's see which are the best messaging apps, with apps for chatting to download on Android and iOS devices.
How to choose messaging apps
Before seeing the best messaging apps, it's important to understand how to analyze these apps. The first aspect is privacy, in fact no one wants to be spied on in private conversations, or be included within databases with information given to third parties. To avoid this, the presence of end-to-end encryption is indispensable, so that messages can only be read by the chat contacts, while the company offering the service cannot view the content.
Obviously, this alone is not enough, in fact, to increase confidentiality, self-destructing messages such as those of Telegram, or the presence of secret chats would be needed. You should also pay attention to apps that save metadata, extracting it from the applications even if anonymously. Some messaging programs allow you to limit the collection of data, such as Viber or Threema, while others don't do it at all, such as Signal and Hoccer.
Then the software can be open source, in this case you can find out how some activities are managed, while proprietary programs are bound by trade secrets, so it is difficult to understand how the administration of internal services takes place. Not to be underestimated is also the registration, better if anonymous or without the phone number, as well as the possibility to insert additional security codes for chats. You should also consider the features included, the presence of companies, and whether the account is free or paid.
Best Messaging Apps
WhatsApp and Telegram aren't the only messaging apps, in fact there are plenty of alternatives available, with apps that protect privacy and others that offer more features.
A very popular messaging app at the moment is Viber, which has around 260 million users worldwide. Today it is owned by the Japanese company Rakuten, although it was designed in Israel, it integrates end-to-end encryption and provides a simple and intuitive graphic interface. From a security point of view, the app does not provide information to third parties, while for functionality it offers group chats, calls, stickers and you can create private communities.
Among the best alternative messaging apps to WhatsApp is Google Messages, the new official app from Big G that can be integrated with all Google apps and services, including Gmail and Google Drive. With this program, originally used for SMS, you can find many features for chatting, with the ability to also send emoji, photos, videos, GIFs and stickers. This is Google's challenge to WhatsApp, in fact this app also supports with the Mountain View company's virtual assistant.
An excellent app for messages from your smartphone, compatible with Android and iOS, is Spike, offered for free for private use. This app does not require you to enter your phone number, works as an app or web console, with a high protection of your personal data. On the contrary, the free version has several limitations, such as the restriction to just 10 group chats. The app is made by an Israeli company and transforms an email inbox into a messaging application, with the ability to send texts, voice notes and make video calls.
In addition to WhatsApp, Mark Zuckerberg's group also offers Facebook Messenger, available as a web console for the desktop or as an app for Android and iOS. This is an ideal solution to synchronize messages with Facebook, also supports group chats, video calls, animated GIFs and you can also send funny stickers. Obviously, if your goal is to increase privacy, this app isn't the best, as it shares data with Facebook group services, so for more privacy it's best to opt for other apps.
The best messaging app for security and privacy is undoubtedly Signal, also adopted by the European Union to manage employee communications. To understand the level of protection, it's enough to think that no data is provided on the number of registered users, end-to-end encryption is obviously used, and it's also a non-profit organization. However, the functionality is limited, in fact you can only send and receive messages, at the same time there is also a desktop version for web access from your PC.
Despite being known as a video calling app, Skype is also a messaging app, available for Android, iOS, Windows PC, Linux and macOS. Now owned by Microsoft, it allows you to make voice and video calls and send text messages. Privacy is not the best, in fact, data is kept for a certain period after which it is deleted. Also, compared to other apps, it is not as versatile, although it is compatible with a lot of desktop programs and mobile apps.
Threema is an app developed in Switzerland, a country that has always valued privacy. The secret chat app provides an advanced encryption system, no advertising is offered inside, you can create surveys to propose to your contacts and make encrypted phone calls. Unfortunately, it's not free, but you have to pay for it, and only a few people use it. However, security is excellent, with PIN locks for private chats, no data transmission to external servers and no information or metadata is stored.
Japan's messaging app is LINE, considered the anti-WhatsApp of the Rising Sun. It currently has 220 million users, most of them located in Southeast Asia. The application is in some ways similar to WeChat, but was developed after the terrible tsunami that hit the continent in 2011, soon becoming one of the most popular messaging services in Asia. Inside is end-to-end encryption, with private and group chats, news, feeds from companies and contacts, tips, and the ability to create business accounts.
One of the secure messaging apps, because it uses end-to-end encryption and the company can't read your messages, is iMessage. This is Apple's native app, with which you can send and receive messages for free with all iPhone owners. It works well but does not offer complex features, being simpler than Telegram and WhatsApp. Be careful to save your conversations and documents to iCloud, otherwise the company could read the information from the chats.
Hoccer is a really useful secret chat application, a German program for mobile devices with end-to-end encryption, anonymous recording and no saving of information entered by users. Inside you can send text messages, images, videos and other documents, however it does not support phone calls. To protect your chats, you can enter custom passwords, the account is totally free and there are no advertisements, with servers located in Europe and therefore subject to strict European privacy regulations.
Kik is a messaging app alternative to WhatsApp, aimed primarily at young people. It is offered for free for Android and iOS, you can send instant messages and register without the phone number, entering only the username and email address. Born in 2010 to date already has 300 million users, with the ability to send text messages, GIFs, emoji, images and videos. With Kik you can also chat with people you don't know, but only if the other contact accepts the invitation, ensuring a good level of privacy and anonymity.
One of the best apps for secret chats is Ginlo, known until 2019 as SIMSme, an application made in Germany that can offer a good level of privacy and protection of sensitive data. In particular, messages are self-destructing, so as soon as the recipient views the content it is deleted to ensure the highest possible confidentiality. In addition, it is possible to check the identity of the interlocutor by activating QR Code scanning. Ginlo allows you to send text messages, images and videos, with dedicated solutions for companies but always respecting the privacy of users.
An alternative solution to WhatsApp for messaging with friends is WeChat, a very popular application in China with over 1.1 billion users worldwide. In Europe it is not widely used at the moment, however it proposes a reliable system to chat with your contacts, although privacy is not its strong point. In fact, there is no end-to-end encryption technology, however you can use it for business activities and to communicate with people in Asia, who will most likely have a WeChat account.