by James A. Martin

3 things you need to know about today’s popular messaging apps

Apr 22, 2016
Consumer ElectronicsMobile Apps

Modern messaging apps do so much more than just send messages, and many are now hubs for a variety of activities. Here are three things you should know about Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, iMessage and other popular message apps.

All the action in the mobile world these days seems to be focused on messaging apps. There’s good reason for that. Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp combined account for 60 billion messages a day, compared to about 20 billion daily SMS texts, according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who spoke at the recent F8 developers conference. That’s a whole lot of smiley emojis shooting back and forth across the globe.

In case you haven’t been paying attention to messaging apps lately, here are 3 things you need to know.

1. End-to-end encryption is the new normal

In the wake of Apple versus the FBI, and the related privacy-versus-security controversy, end-to-end encryption, in which only the people sending and receiving messages can read them, became the must-have feature in messaging apps.

Apple’s iMessage service already offers such encryption, of course, much to the FBI’s dismay. Earlier this month, WhatsApp (owned by Facebook) added automatic, full encryption to all of its messaging formats, including photos, videos, voice messages, documents and calls. Not long after that, Viber (shown below) followed suit and added a “hidden” chat feature that’s protected by a PIN code.


Other messaging apps that also offer end-to-end encryption include Wickr and Telegram.

2. Messaging apps let you do more than message

Due to their popularity, messaging apps today have many features beyond the ability to send messages.

For example, Sean Parker’s Airtime group messaging app just relaunched as a digital “hang out” where you can experience group videos, music and other content together with friends.

Facebook’s Messenger app already lets you send money to friends, and it will reportedly soon allow you to pay for things, not unlike Apple Pay.

3. Too many chat apps? There’s a (desktop) app for that

Franz is a free, new app for Windows, Mac, and Linux that lets you send and receive messages using a single dashboard, from 14 different services, including Skype, Slack, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and Google Hangouts. The app is easy to set up and use, and because it’s free, it’s well worth a try.