The frequency with which we talk to people digitally, or online, is greater than ever before. Messaging apps like Kik allow us to keep in near-constant contact with as many people as we’d like throughout the day. Couple the accessibility of these apps with the number of people that have smartphones in their pocket and you have a recipe for globe-spanning networks that don’t have any boundaries, let alone distance.
Kik Messenger itself has amassed over 200 million registered users, with many millions of them using the app on a daily basis. However, there are other fishes in the sea, and Kik is certainly not the only instant messaging platform that’s available across multiple devices (even if it remains one of the best). Other messaging applications come with different features, different aesthetics, and frequently, different groups of friends who are using them. Sometimes, your group of chat contacts needs a particular feature offered by another application, or maybe you just want to join your friends on the one that they’ve chosen to use.
Even amidst the sea of options present in mobile devices’ app stores, several messaging applications have risen above their competition. They’re the apps that boast millions of users, just like Kik, and it’s those apps that I’ll be detailing in the following article. The best part about each of them? The base suit of communication features that each application offers is entirely free!
Instant messaging and chat rooms have basically created a level playing field for deaf people.- Vint Cerf
It’s hard not to begin this list with Facebook Messenger, given how prevalent its social media counterpart has become. It also comes first in the list because it’s a bit of an odd duck as far as messaging apps go. Is it a messaging app? Is it Facebook? The answer is that it lies somewhere in between, occupying a comfortable space within the Facebook social media landing itself while also functioning as a standalone chat service.
However, since we’re comparing the app primarily to Kik Messenger, I’ll focus on the features of Facebook Messenger’s mobile app. Though it’s lacking the dedicated web browser and promoted chats that draw many Kik users, it does boast several benefits that Kik doesn’t have. The best of these is its built-in video chat feature, which functions much like the popular FaceTime app that’s been heavily featured by Apple’s iOS. Whereas FaceTime is only available on iOS, Facebook Messenger is cross-compatible with every major mobile operating system.
You can also use Facebook Messenger for all major chat features common to messaging applications: group chats, image and video messaging, and emoji personalization.
Also demanding a spot near the top of this list is Skype, the communications powerhouse that’s now available on almost every major computing platform available. If it has a microphone and/or a camera, it can very likely use some version of Skype.
As far more than a messaging app, Skype offers a wealth of customization and group chat options. The settings customization allow such tweaking and fine-tuning to the chat experience that it’s occasionally too much for some users that want a simpler application, such as Kik Messenger. Many professional organizations utilize Skype for its sturdy servers, clean interface, and wide-ranging ease of access. You can download Skype on any popular mobile operating system, and also on Windows PCs and Macs.
Some view WhatsApp as an “underdog” in the mobile messaging service market, but its millions of users and rock solid performance would tell you otherwise. In the years since its inception, it has all but exploded on the smartphone scene. It boasts a smart, clean interface intended to replace the SMS messaging feature on whatever mobile device it occupies.
Group chats, media messages, and customized messaging are all available in WhatsApp though it doesn’t boast Windows PC and Mac accessibility. (This is a problem remedied the same way as you might with Kik Messenger–by downloading an Android emulator.) WhatsApp is frequently updated and remains one of the fastest growing chat platforms on mobile devices.
More than a simple chat messenger, Viber is a direct competitor to the features that Skype offers to its users. Those looking for a strong application to host their communications will certainly find one here. It has a clean, professional interface, and a large installed userbase to speak to its success as a communication tool.
Viber allows users to make voice and video calls, as well as chat via instant messages. If you want to use Viber on multiple devices (including desktop and laptop computers), you can easily synchronize your experience in such a way that moving between devices is a painless process. Recently, the company has introduced the “Viber Out” feature that allows users to make outgoing calls to non-Viber users at inexpensive rates. For those who need a reliable resource for international or long distance communications, Viber remains a strong contender.
After its recent relaunch, Yahoo Messenger introduced a host of interesting features that allowed it to not only remain relevant but gain a noteworthy popularity amongst smartphone users. Like the other applications on this list it has a clean, accessible interface that one would expect from a Yahoo product. It allows for easy sharing of image and video-based media while also offering rare accessibility features such as its “offline mode,” which allows users to type messages that will then be sent as soon as their mobile device is within the range of a reliable data connection.
The Yahoo Messenger app is currently available on iOS and Android, and desktop and laptop users can access the messaging services through an online web portal.
Telegram is another interesting messaging service that demands to be added to this list, if only for the ways that it stands up alongside its competition while also diversifying itself with unique features. The elements that are most often-demanded by smartphone users–group chats, media messaging, and reliable servers–can all be found here. It doesn’t yet have support for video calls; as might be guessed by the app’s namesake, its specialization is in text messages, though those messages can be accompanied by large media files in a pinch.
Interestingly, Telegram also features a “message destruct” feature that will destroy your messages after a certain period of time. Third-party developers have free access to Telegram’s API, which allows for a wide range of customization that’s not available on more strictly controlled apps. Telegram is available on all major mobile operating systems, as well as Windows PCs and Macs.
Though it has primarily dominated the market in China, WeChat is the app on this list that I find most comparable to Kik Messenger. It’s vibrant, full of social-oriented features preferred by people with extensive contact lists, as well as those who enjoy meeting new, local people while on-the-go. It has the necessary features to be a complete replacement for your SMS messaging service on your mobile device–group chats, text, and media messaging, as well as voice and video calls.
While it remains popular, and certainly has a place on this list, it doesn’t stand out for any particularly unique features as much as the other Top 10 apps. A clever “shake” feature is handy for finding other users to chat with, and WeChat’s “friend radar” will help you to connect with people on a local level. It’s available for major mobile operating systems as well as Windows and Mac computers.
While most of the app’s on this list have been around for several years, and already have a distinctly large following, I felt obligated to include an up-and-coming startup for the sake of diversity. Discord is heavily marketed toward gamers but has already expanded to most major mobile operating systems while also maintaining an exceptionally strong Windows PC and Mac application.
Discord focuses primarily on group chat settings, allowing users to set up “servers” to invite other users into. These messaging environments can be broken down into separate rooms, making for an ideal way to carry out topic-based conversations with multiple people. Best of all? Each server can come with a voice chat section that can be joined just as easily from mobile devices as desktop computers. It won’t replace your SMS message system, but it will certainly provide a clean, well-hosted interface for those who need a place for group chats and don’t want to turn to Skype.
Much like Discord above, Slack is now aimed towards a particular niche, where it’s coincidentally found a strong success and large userbase. Rather than entertainment, Slack has been embraced by startups and small business teams looking to take advantage of the apps fluid handling of file transfers and other methods of information sharing. It’s more vibrant than Skype and is flashy enough to attract the frequent attention of young, hip users.
Also like Discord, Slack works best when it’s serving a particular, pre-established group of people. It’s available on iOS and Android, as well as Windows PCs and Mac computers.
Though it’s at the bottom of this list, it’s impossible to leave Snapchat off when we’re comparing other apps to Kik Messenger. Though it carries a largely different feature set, its propensity for attracting hip, young users that like to communicate in short bursts of text, video, web links, and memes means that it has to be considered in the same category. Some bad publicity aside (a hack that resulted in distributed user photos), Snapchat remains an effective and fun way to communicate quickly. Users that enjoy quick communication rather than long, wordy messages will find a lot to enjoy and especially a lot to see in the visual-oriented Snapchat interface.
Currently, Snapchat is available on iOS and Android, though an Android emulator can allow you to run it on Windows PCs and Mac computers.
Though this is a Top 10 collection of excellent alternative applications to Kik Messenger, there are even more out there. Chime in with your own favorite apps in the comments below!