The Best Free Messaging Apps for Android
Nowadays, instant messaging has become the most popular way of communication, since it allows for the instant sending and delivery of messages, as well as virtually any other type of data. Additionally, there is no cost to using instant messaging apps, since they make use of internet services, in contrast to the old SMS text messaging protocol.
In this article you’ll find the best free messaging apps for Android.
- The difference between SMS with Instant Messaging
- Best messaging app for security: Signal
- Best messaging app for new features: Google Allo
- Best messaging app for socializing: Viber
- Best messaging app for simple and fast services: Chomp SMS
- Best messaging app for a colorful interface: Android Messages
- Best messaging app for compatibility: Skype
- Overall best messaging app: WhatsApp
The SMS (Short Message Service) protocol was established for the first time by mobile network operators in 1992.
An SMS text message may contain up to 160 alphanumeric characters, including spaces. In most mobile phones a message’s size can exceed this character limit without any issues, but the cost for it will increase accordingly.
With instant messaging services, users can communicate directly, with zero waiting time until the message is delivered to the recipient.
In addition, users can send files such as photos and videos easily and quickly, without having to perform any complicated actions.
Another great advantage of instant messaging is that there is no size limitation regarding the message size, plus there is no cost for the messages since the communication is realized using Wi-Fi connection or mobile internet data usage.
When instant messaging apps started making their appearance, mobile network operators and companies considered them a threat, for obvious reasons.
The term instant messaging dates back to the 1990s, and due to the advances of the internet, it is now seen as the natural evolution of SMS and the future of messages.
In this article we will go through some of the best and most popular instant messaging apps.
Signal is undoubtedly the ideal choice for those who wish to have great security during messaging.
It is worth mentioning that this open source app does not allow the user to take screenshots of it, unless you tweak the corresponding option from its settings menu.
Prior to the installation procedure, the application will ask for more permissions than any other app covered in the article.
Τhe first thing that Signal shall ask for is your phone number, which is used for confirming the registration process by receiving an SMS text message. Then, you will be asked if you want to use it as the default messaging app.
Signal offers the best combination of usability and security, providing end-to-end encryption for all personal information. This is done as soon as you register the app with your phone number.
Moreover, this undoubtedly safest messaging app is also distinguished by its several different beautiful colors displayed for each contact individually.
Anything you send via the app, even file attachments, is encrypted. In addition, the application has various useful features, such as video calls and instant sending of multimedia.
This application has received from the Play Store the honorary icon of Top Developer, which makes it one of the top messaging apps in the store. As for ratings, it has a 4.6 score on Play Store from more than 128.000 users.
Google Allo is one of the newest messaging apps and is developed by Google. It offers new features and capabilities, which you may not find in other apps of this category.
Google Allo will ask for many of the permissions you can imagine, being a Google instant messaging app.
Google Allo includes all the typical features that similar messaging applications have. It combines SMS messaging and instant messaging in the best way possible. It allows sending messages with photos, stickers, and also has a special tool for adding comments on photos.
However, the feature that stands out is the use of Google Assistant, which is similar to Siri for iOS and Cortana for Windows.
Additionally, the app provides strong security mechanisms as well. In fact, it has an incognito chat feature that encrypts all messages stored in it. Additionally, it has a self-destruction feature too, which destroys messages automatically after a fixed time period.
Google Allo has received more than 210.000 reviews, and has one of the highest rankings in the messaging apps category in the Play Store.
The app was last updated on April 10, 2017 and requires Android 4.1 or newer.
Viber needs no introduction probably, as it’s highly likely that you have already installed it in your smartphone. This well-known app is considered to be one of the most popular messaging application.
The app's required permissions are absolutely justified, and are related to its features and specific purposes.
Viber offers a wide variety of options. It uses your phone number to add all contacts located within the device. Similarly to most messaging apps, Viber requires a SIM card to operate.
It can send instant text messages, stickers, photos and videos for free to other Viber users.
With its Viber Out feature, you are able to make calls to contacts that are not included in Viber and you can also make calls to landlines all around the world, with a relatively low cost.
The application features encrypted messaging, with the corresponding icon representing the security, when present.
Perhaps though, some users might find it a bit annoying that it constantly notifies you for updates.
Viber has received more than 10 million ratings, and has one of the highest rankings in the messaging apps category in the Play Store.
Of course, it carries the Top Developer icon, and its downloads are close to hitting one billion.
Chomp SMS is one of the oldest messaging apps, and is still a quite popular one.
The application asks for less permissions than the rest of the messaging apps covered in this article, and they all have to do with the features it includes.
The app has a very simple and user-friendly interface that is not very different from the default interface of the Android’s built-in messaging app.
There, the green color is dominating the place, but from the settings menu you can change colors and background.
Chomp SMS offers the simplest way for switching between SMS text messaging to instant messaging. Thus, at the same time you can check your phone’s messages, but also see of your contacts are currently online.
Moreover, the application include a variety of features and options, such as emoticons, privacy settings and even blacklists for blocking messages from unwanted people.
The application has received about 330.000 ratings, and has one of the highest rankings in the messaging apps category in the Play Store. Additionally, it has been downloaded by over 5 million users.
Google has developed four messaging apps: Google Allo, the newest one (which was already mentioned previously), Hangouts, which is is heavy and buggy, and Messenger, which in fact is inadequate for most purposes.
But Android Messages is lightweight and colorful, in contrast to Hangouts and Messenger.
This app asks for seven permissions; however, if you are running Marshmallow, you can prevent it from being granted some of them, since they are optional and will not affect its smooth functionality. These include Location and Storage space.
It is also the most lightweight among the rest of the messaging applications in this article, and is especially known for its simple and colorful interface. You could say that it is ideal for users who like making changes in the interface’s colors. Its appearance is strongly linked to the appearance of most products and services developed by Google.
From the app’s settings menu you can enable useful features such as SMS delivery reports, vibration etc.
Android Messages has exceeded 400.000 ratings and has one of the highest scores for messaging applications in the Play Store, while it is on its way of reaching 1 million downloads.
Although Skype is mostly known for its audio/video calls features, most ignore the fact that it also has an advanced instant messaging system.
From the day the application was obtained by Microsoft, it has dramatically improved its capabilities. One of them is sending messages to other Skype users who are not even connected to the internet.
Of course, this feature is only available in the paid service "Skype for Business", in which you do not have to wait for the recipient to come online in order to receive your sent message. It’s similar to the SMS mechanism, actually, but with more options.
All permissions requested by the application relate to its main features and functions. You may block its location permission if you wish (and if you’re running Android Marshmallow or above), since it doesn’t affect its smooth functionality.
The typical Skype-blue color is dominant in the app too. You can add contacts from your device and others messaging apps as well.
As a pure Microsoft product now, the app provides tips and advice in guiding the user in a very friendly way. Microsoft is trying to attract new audiences and has improved the functionality of its Skype bots (Chatbots), adding artificial intelligence features.
The application has become very user-friendly, and not just for messaging, but also for managing tasks such as booking tickets and hotel rooms.
Skype also has several settings so as to make it more suitable according to your needs.
The app has been received almost 10 million ratings, and you can find both positive and negative reviews in the Play Store. It should be noted that Skype downloads for Android will soon reach 1 billion.
Similarly to Viber and Skype, WhatsApp is another very popular messaging app.
The app requests 7 permissions, which correspond to the typical permissions asked by messaging apps.
WhatsApp’s interface is relatively simple, and the app is quite lightweight. It allows sending text, photos, and videos, while you can also record and send audio messages.
It is constantly updated and new features are continuously added to its toolbox. A relatively new feature is its ability to encrypt conversations between WhatsApp users.
Moreover, there is a web version of the app that you can use from your computer.
WhatsApp holds the honorary icon of Top Developer in the Play Store and is regarded as one of the top messaging apps overall, with a 4.4 score received from more than 50 million users.
Moreover, its number of downloads is somewhere between 1 and 5 billion.
If you have any suggestions, or thoughts regarding messaging apps, don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments section below!