Messaging apps are a dime a dozen these days. Which one is best for you? Well, that depends on the kind of chats you like to have with your friends, whether you'd like to add pix, videos or initiate Skype calls. If you want to navigate the world of messenger apps a bit more easily, here's an overview of the five best apps out there:
1. imo instant messenger
imo allows you to connect with people via multiple platforms at once – including Skype, Facebook, Google Talk, ICQ or Windows Live Messenger. You can even use the service on your computer – all you need is to register with imo.
Like most messaging apps out there, imo instant messenger allows you to do a whole lot more than just send text. You can make voice calls over the imo network, send audio and video. How well it works depends on the platform to which you're sending the information to. Thus, via Skype you can send pictures, but can't receive them.
imo has a very tidy looking user interface, which I found very helpful.
imo supports: Facebook messenger, Google Talk, Skype, Windows Live Messenger (MSN), ICQ, AIM, Jabber, and Myspace.
- Free and free of ads.
- Supports many different platforms
- Supports voice calls (but only via the imo network)
- Supports voice messages and multimedia files
- Voice calls only work in the imo network.
IM+ covers almost all platforms, although if – besides MSN, Google Talk, ICQ and other services – you'd like to use Skype to chat, then you need to make an in-app purchase ($.99 for three months or $4.99 for the full version).
Over the Skype network, you can also make calls via VoIP, but you must have the official Skype app installed on your smartphone. As soon as a call within IM+ is initialized, it forwards to Skype. Otherwise, IM+ offers a similar range of features as imo.im, including an easy-to-use user interface.
IM+ supports: Facebook, Skype, MSN / Live Messenger, Google Talk, Yahoo!, AIM / iChat, ICQ, Jabber, RenRen, mig33, SINA Weibo, Fetion.
- Supports many platforms
- Supports voice messages and multimedia data
- Voice calls require Skype app.
If you already use Trillian on your PC, why not also use it on your smartphone? The service offers a polished messaging interface, but does not support Skype, has a small number of supported IM networks and doesn't allow direct calling. Images can be sent through the client with ease.
Not so nice? The ads. At the bottom of the app, a number of ads show up that you cannot hide. For a service that costs almost $20 a year, this is unacceptable. Zrillian is primarily interesting for those folks who have plenty of friends already registered there. Without a Trillian account, the app is useless.
Trillian supports AIM, Facebook, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber, Windows Live, MySpace and Yahoo!
- Useful if you already have a Trillian account.
- Trillian account needed.
- Ads are annoying
- Pro version is too expensive.
Trillian and eBuddy are messenger clients for purists, i.e. people who don't need a lot of fancy features. eBuddy does not support voice calls, but you can at least quickly and easily send messages to your friends.
Of all the messaging clients, eBuddy happens to be one of the most aesthetically-pleasing. While the app still features little pop-up ads, you can easily disable them by transferring a bit of money to the developers.
eBuddy supports MSN (Windows Live Messenger or WLM), Facebook, Yahoo!, MySapce, Gtalk, ICQ, AIM and Hyves
- Very visually appealing
- Intuitive user interface
- Annoying pop-up ads.
WhatsApp just may be exactly what you're looking for from a messaging client. When it comes to replacing your SMS with something a bit more full-featured, WhatsApp is truly indispensible, mainly because it is so widely used.
Unlike the other apps described here, WhatsApp does not connect to popular IM networks. However, you may be surprised by how many of your friends already use the service. You can send contacts, video, voice notes, map directions and pictures to your friends. Group chats are easy and messages are never lost.
- Widely used.
- Comprehensive functionality, group chats and a whole lot more.
If you would like a messaging client that can handle a wide number of platforms, including Skype, than I'd heartily recommend checking out imo.im. If you'd *just* like an SMS replacement, WhatsApp is a very easy sell. The other apps listed here have their advantages and disadvantages, related to which platforms they support, but also what features you want. We hope you can find a messenger app that fits your needs.