by August 5, 2013 0 comments

1) WeChat
Available On: iOS,Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, Symbian
Primarily a text and voice messaging service, WeChat is popular for its flexibility in sending messages through a variety of various multimedia types. It facilitates voice chat, where users “hold to talk” and record messages that they can send to the chat they are having. Social “moments” allows you to take pictures and share them instantly with a friend. This is unique as the app allows for various levels of privacy, so a user could have their own small group chat and share pictures among themselves. “Shake” is a feature that uses the location of the user to enable meeting other WeChat users in the vicinity, who can send “greetings” to each other to make new friends! Another similar feature is “Drift Bottle”, that allows a user to “throw” out a message and meet new people who reply to their messages. It is currently being promoted in India through Ibibo.com, and has 300 million users as of January 2013.

2) WhatsApp
Available On: iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Symbian, Windows Phone, Nokia S40
This IM service is making waves, with its CEO recently announcing that it has well over 200 million users on a monthly basis. The app uses the open standard XMPP protocol, and utilizes one’s phone number as a unique identifier. Similarly to WeChat, WhatsApp allows for text, video and audio messages to be sent to contacts. Unfortunately, conversation history and settings are not stored on the cloud, but on the local storage of the smartphone, and hence users have to manually transfer data if they switch to a new device. While WeChat depends on Facebook Connect or Tencent registration, WhatsApp relies on using the registered phone number to activate the profile on a phone. WhatsApp also provides group chat, where private conversations with a group can be held. An advantage with WhatsApp is the lack of ads, and the company’s strong stance against using advertising in the app to make revenue. While the app is free on on most of the platforms, an annual $0.99 subscription plan will be phased in, and is already present on the iOS platform.

3) SnapChat
Available On: iOS, Android
SnapChat is a unique instant messaging service, as the messages sent are time-limited. With the app, users can take pictures,videos and even make drawings and send them to a very specific set of contacts. Users can set a time limit (just till 10 seconds), in which the recipient can view the content. Once the time is up, the content is deleted from both the local device as well as SnapChat’s servers. According to the latest news, SnapChat is processing more than 150 million pictures a day, while its competitor Instagram is processing just 40 million pictures a day. This app will be attractive to users who wish to share intimate moments during a brief span, and do not wish to be have to maintain a “perfect” online presence because of fear that their privacy will be invaded.

4) Google Talk
Available On: Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Any XMPP-compatible client
GTalk has a free app for the Android platform, which has the advantage of working with multiple Google accounts. Gtalk is a convenient option for many as Android users usually set up a Google account prior to using their phones. Moreover, the app has options to make video calls and to do voice chat. For the video call functionality, the app uses Google+ hangouts to host them. It also gives you an option to go “off the record”, which means that messages sent during that session are not recorded in the conversation history. Unfortunately, there is no way to send pictures or videos through the Google Talk interface, which can be done through WhatsApp or WeChat easily.

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5) Viber
Available On: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Nokia, Bada
With Viber, you can text, send photos and call any friend in your contact list who is also using Viber. The app claims to offer HD audio quality, but of course uses the data plan to make these VOIP calls. Just like WhatsApp, Viber associates an account with your phone number and pulls up all the contacts from your phonebook registered on Viber as well. Additionally, Viber also is not ad-supported, so no pesky ads will bother you. Very similar to Skype in terms of functionality, it is available in 10 different languages.

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