Many people are going beyond the instant messaging app bundled on your smartphone and installing custom solutions. One of the advantages of Android is the sheer amount of instant messaging apps that are available. Some of them have a massive amount of 3rd party content, such as games and apps. Others specialize in giving you an experience similar to iMessage for iOS. Today, we look at the top 10 instant messaging and SMS apps for Android.
WhatsApp Messenger – This app lets you text for free with other users of the app, regardless of platform. Neat customization tools, group chat features, and easy location adding are all cool additions. Though you only get a few extra useful features, WhatsApp Messenger is an excellent choice for sending free texts across platforms, even internationally.
Chomp SMS – The first thing to notice when beginning to use ChompSMS is its smooth performance. Scrolling through conversation lists and messages is a pleasant experience with the speed and fluidity this app delivers. It’s also a breeze to open and reply to messages and the app never had a lag as I was using it for this review. Even long messages that took a while to open with other SMS apps, ChompSMS had no problem pulling up in a fraction of a second.
Handcent SMS – This app is another popular free option which brings full SMS and MMS support powered by the Handcent network. It features an integrated spell-checker, optional quick-reply, and advanced security options. You get full support of over 20 different language and can improve/export vCards straight through the app. Similar to Chomp, Handcent is highly customizable and there is a variety of pre-made templates to choose from.
Google Hangouts – This app gives you quick access to chat with or place video calls with individuals or groups across platforms. The interface is easy to navigate, and the app performs well. If you use Google Hangouts or you used to use Google Talk frequently, then you should enjoy the convenience of a chat and video-calling app. Its important to note that the Hangouts app isn’t all about video calling. As the replacement to Google Talk, Hangouts is now the go-to app for chatting with your Google contacts.
Hike Messenger – A cross platform messenger app, Hike is similar to WhatsApp but is better in the sense that it also allows users to communicate over SMS, which is certainly a big advantage for those who do not have access to mobile Internet or data on the-go and for communicating with your friends without Hike app from within the same app.
Google Messenger – Google Messenger is a stripped back text messaging app that can only send and receive SMS and MMS, and can’t send messages over the internet like rivals WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or even Google’s Hangouts app. It updates the basic text messaging app that comes pre-installed on almost every Android smartphone, and is part of Google’s strategy to uncouple its apps from its Android operating system.
Textra – This app is great if you like a lot of customization options in your apps. For each of your contacts, or just a few, you get to pick the notification icon color and alert tone that plays when you get a new message. That means you can tell, at a glance, the difference between a text from mom and your best friend.
LINE: Free Calls & Messages – LINE reshapes communication around the globe, bringing you closer to your family, friends, and loved ones—for free. With voice and video calls, messages, and a limitless variety of exciting stickers, you’ll be able to express yourself in ways that you’ve never thought possible. This app also has a slew of 3rd party games from companies like Disney.
Facebook Messenger – Facebook recently made the decision to take all instant messaging off of its platform and create a dedicated app. If you want to privately message your friends and are on a mobile device, you basically need to install this app. Not everyone uses Facebook, but if you do and want to remain in contact with people on a phone or tablet, you need this app.
Viber – Send free messages and make free calls to any device that has Viber, on any network, from your Android. Viber lets you make free phone calls and send text, sticker, photo, voice and video messages for free to anyone who also has the application installed. Viber integrates with the Android OS to give you the best experience and performance. It syncs with your contacts, detecting which ones already have Viber. Simply select a contact and talk for free.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.