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Five messengers beyond WhatsApp

Wed, 02/26/2014 - 8:34am
Daniele DeAngelis Walker, Editorial Intern

Facebook’s recent acquisition of WhatsApp has the technology world abuzz about messaging apps. This begs some questions: What are some other messaging apps? What makes them special? And, with standard texting and calling already built into most cell phones, what exactly can fancy messaging apps do for you? 

GroupMe
As its name suggests, GroupMe is designed entirely for group messaging. It’s actually owned by Skype, which is incredibly popular for video calls intercontinetally. Beyond sharing text with a group of people, GroupMe lets users send pictures and videos as well. It also allows access from both SmartPhone and computer. Entirely text-based, the interface is simple and clean. GroupMe appeals to techies because of its speed and non-techies because of its ease. 

Line
Line is a more complex app originally made in Japan. To start, it offers messaging between pairs or groups and video calls between users. In addition to sending pictures and videos, Line actually allows users to take and edit them. The app also includes themes, stickers, games, and emojis and allows users to make location and activity updates, as well as receive these from friends and celebrities. Line supports a lexicon of other apps, including music and shopping services. 

Voxer
Often described as a “walkie-talkie,” Voxer is an app that functions just like regular texting…but with voices instead. Users can simply push a button, speak a message, and send it quickly to other users. Suddenly, messages can be played instantly or saved like voicemails. A business-friendly version of the app exists for a fee. Similarly, a newer app called Glide functions like Voxer but includes video capabilities instead of just audio.

Kik
Popular— and more importantly, safe —for younger users, Kik boasts a painless signup and a clean interface. Joining and using Kik doesn’t require a phone number, just an email address, and can be used on any phone or tablet. It’s also easy to customize through its multimedia option, Cards. Cards lets users download different video players and web browsers and then organize them uniquely, all based upon the user’s own preferences. 

Cubie
Based in Taiwan, Cubie focuses on drawings, pictures, and videos. Users can create doodles right within the app, then easily save them and send them to contacts. It also includes a camera and the ability to draw right on pictures it takes. Additionally, each conversation comes with its own personalized photo gallery. These galleries automatically save and display all images sent between the contacts— one-on-one pairs or groups of up to 100 —as they converse.

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