Skip to Content

Modern Day Messaging

Recently I asked several friends of mine about their favorite messaging apps.

Raising their eyebrows slightly and vaguely shaking their heads in complete “duh!” (I swear I could hear this over the phone), they answered, “Text.” Or “Facebook Messenger.” Or “Gchat.”

Of the 15 or so people I brought into my totally non-scientific survey, three had enough “I-know-Linda-well-enough-to-guess-there’s-something-new-going-on” interest to add, “Why, are there other messaging apps I should know about?”

Modern Day MessagingThe answer, of course, is “yes.” The world of messaging apps is exploding — largely due to the the rise of mobile usage. Several recent studies have determined that more online time is spent on messaging apps than on any place else on the Internet.

So does that mean you need to abandon SMS and get yourself a Viber account ASAP? Not necessarily. But if you have family abroad, you should probably check it out. With Viber you can message and call anyone, anywhere, on any sim-card enabled device, if the other person has an account as well. Viber syncs with your contacts to find other Viber users, and you can send pictures, video messages, and all the other good stuff you’ve come to expect from messaging apps.

Many of the new messaging apps are going to come and go and you won’t even feel a breeze. I truly doubt that Facebook, Messenger, and SMS are disappearing any time soon. Considering, however, that you are going to be hearing a lot of chatter about new messaging apps — I mean Snapchat is still queen of ephemeral messages, though competitors are popping up almost weekly — it’s good to be aware of the trend just in case something completely innovative comes along.

The Apps North Americans Don’t Use

Prepare not to be shocked. The two most popular messaging apps in the Western World are both owned by Facebook: Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Most of the apps used in the US and Europe have fairly much the same features. Some, like What’s App, are meant to facilitate and preserve conversations; others cater to those who want their words to disappear.

Cross the times zones to China, India and Japan, though, and you’ll find apps completely different from the ones we know. In China (where Snapchat is banned) the big network is WeChat, which you could use too, except you won’t know anyone on it. The big selling point of WeChat is that you can sell things via the network. Think WhatsApp with a pinch of Craig’s List. Line, popular in Japan, features over 10,000 stickers and emoticons. India is buzzing over Nimbuzz, which enables users to reach friends on several other platforms, such as Facebook Messenger and Google Plus.

Messaging Apps You Should Know

When you think about how many people there are in China, India and Japan, suddenly the world of messaging apps we use in the west seems small and quiet. The newest startups are smaller and quieter, but may still be useful. Here are a few things you need to know.

1 SnapChatNot just for teens who want to send naked pictures of themselves to friends, Snapchat is popular because it gives people control over who sees what messages, videos or pictures they send. Everything disappears within a set time. Of course, in reality, there are many ways to save Snapchat messages, but people like the platform because it’s extremely visual and bold. Users also say that while using Snapchat they don’t need to worry about flaws in their lives being on blast forever.

2. WickrWith it’s self-destructing messages, Wickr has been called “SnapChat for Grownups.” With Wickr you can set your messages to last as short a time as one second or for as long as five days. The platform itself collects no data about users. This is a far cry from our beloved info-invasive Facebook.

3. TelegramOnce known as the messaging app used by ISIS, now known as the messaging app busy kicking ISIS off its channels, Telegram feels a lot like WhatsApp, but it is encrypted and ephemeral. If you should find yourself in Russia or Iran, needing to get around the censors, Telegram would be your best bet.

Most of us aren’t journalists or secret agents embedded in hostile lands, so, in general, SMS, Twitter DMs, Facebook Messenger and GChat fill our needs. If you have never tried SnapChat, though, you might want to give it a look so you have a feel for why it’s numero uno for teens. And Viber and WhatsApp are amazing if you want to make free phone calls around the globe.

If you want to know more, I’m happy to help. Just leave me a message.


Linda Bernstein

Linda Bernstein is a professor, writer, social media consultant, and proud Baby Boomer. She has written hundreds of articles for dozens of national and international newspapers, magazines, and websites. Instagram: wordwhacker

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Read previous post:
When Your Parents Were Lovers

This month would have been my parents' 67th wedding anniversary. They had only 40 years together before my father died in...