Instant messaging apps for your iPhone

Your iPhone offers so many entertaining features, addicting games and useful apps that sometimes it is easy to forget that it’s main task is to serve as a communication device. You can stay connected with family and friends not only via calls and texts but also through instant messaging apps. We have excluded from the list the default options such as iMessage or Apple’s in-built email application. Instead, we have chosen apps that can offer additional possibilities and that can enhance your instant messaging experience.

Microsoft’s Skype is the worlds’ most widely used video calling service for mobile devices and PCs and it also offers a messaging option. Even though iPhone users count with FaceTime as a video chatting solution, for many, Skype is by far the preferred solution. Skype’s major strength is that it supports instant communication as well as video messaging effectively,thanks to features such as group messaging and media files transfer.

You can connect to Skype using your specific username and password for this service or through a previously established Microsoft account that you most likely would have set up for Windows Live or Windows 8. Skype recently updated its iOS app and it now offers a more responsive, cleaner and easier to use interface. However, the most noticeable enhancement has to be the speed, which improves the communication experience, specially when you are including pictures in your conversation with your friends or when you start a video chat.

The success of WhatsApp is quite impressive and after being acquired by Facebook earlier on this year, this popular app is set to continue defining the way we communicate via text. Even though WhatsApp is very basic, the fact that it allows you to send unlimited messages to friends and family for a minimum cost of $0.99 per year (the first year is free), regardless of the platform of their device, makes it a powerful tool to stay in touch. With WhatsApp, it is possible to replace traditional SMS as long as you are connected to internet.

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To access WhatsApp, you use your mobile phone number instead of a username or password and it works through the web instead of the mobile network, which will allow you to send message to users abroad without worrying about roaming or additional charges. WhatsApp has become prominent in all the available mobile phone platforms (iOS, Android, etc) thanks to its ease of use, its versatility, ability to customize and its convenience. With over 450 million active users and an estimated one million new users joining every day, WhatApp is without a doubt a phenomenon that has grown to become the largest messaging app in the world.

SnapChat is another messaging app that works across different platforms (including Windows Phone, as the version for this OS was recently launched) and it keeps increasing its user base thanks to its unique instant image sharing features. With SnapChat, you can send images or video clips instantly through private messages. These images/clips will disappear from the screen within maximum ten seconds after the message has been opened. Once they have been seen, the images will self-destruct but that doesn’t mean that users may not get a chance to take a screen shot of what you send, so keep this in mind when sharing content.

SnapChat also released an updated version for iOS earlier on this year which enables video chatting. In order to be able to start a video chat with a friend on SnapChat, you need to be using the app at the same time. When this happens, SnapChat will notify you by activating a small button that once you press and keep hold, will allow you to begin the video chat. SnapChat also allows text messaging although it is designed for fast, brief talks instead of long conversations.

Kik is well known amongst many iOS users and has many similitudes with WhatsApp, including features such as group chats and the possibility to send pictures and to share images and YouTube links. Kik’s user interface was revamped for iOS 7 to offer better graphics and more stability. Kik is expanding its functionality to offer their over 120 millions users the possibility to play games and enjoy additional content features. There are games being developed for Kik regularly and you can play with your friends without downloading extra apps. Additionally, Kik allows you to protect your personal information as you do not have to share your mobile phone number and all you need is to create a username.

IM combines multiple social media and messaging services accounts including Facebook, Yahoo, Windows Live Messenger and Skype to offer you a unified chat experience. Apart from supporting multiple instant messaging services, the iOS 7 version supports Off-the- record encryption to provide a secure experience. You can store your chat history and keep all your contacts from the different services you use in a single list for easy access and control. It is possible to send files in the form of a link that can be easily accessed by your contacts or you can reduce the size of your files, which is convenient when you are limited by data capacity.

The design for the pro iOS version is simple and focused on instant messaging and contacts, this will make your chat experience easier and more efficient. You can manage your interactions across your different accounts effectively and you can also use the “neighbours” feature that lets you find and chat with people in your area that share your interests.

Facebook Messenger
What makes Facebook Messenger so practical is that it is used by a large number of users, meaning that you can connect with anyone easily with all your contacts in your Facebook account or anyone that has a profile in the social networking website. Facebook Messenger works as a standalone app and works faster than the chat service that is included in the main Facebook mobile app. It also allows users to make voice calls using Wi-Fi and the iOS version now also includes Chat Heads, an option that allows you to continue the conversation while you are using other apps.

Twitter may not a be intended as a messaging app in the conventional sense but it is undeniable that it offers an effective way to interact with others. The Twitter app for iOS has been updated and it offers Bing translation that allows user to read any tweet that is in a different language. The option to translate the Tweet using Bing will appear right below the post. Twitter’s app offers the same features that you can enjoy in the web version, including direct (private) messages. Even though it is not a dedicated messaging solution, you can use Twitter to connect easily and fast with others, as well as staying up to date with the latest trends.

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