Discover the top 7 messaging apps in 2024

Sara Ana Cemazar
August 24, 2023
min read

A lot of communication today happens through messaging apps. In comparison to a few decades ago, communication is not limited to simply connecting two or more distant people anymore. We communicate through media files, video calls, and games. Messaging apps have become an integral part of our lives. 

It might be hard to find the best app for your specific use case due to many options on the market. Depending whether you're looking for an app to connect with friends, special interest community, or business associates, you'll want a different type of chatting app.

In this comprehensive post, we guide you in choosing the best messaging app with a list of the most prominent choices in 2024 and their ideal usage.

The most popular messaging app: WhatsApp

messaging app

Having started in 2009, WhatsApp has created a dedicated customer base worldwide through continuous improvements in features and security. There are about 2.78 billion unique, active users globally on WhatsApp in June 2023, making it the most popular messaging app worldwide.

WhatsApp is a free chat platform, which contributes to its popularity. Since everyone is available on WhatsApp, people prefer to use it as a primary mode of communication. It has also become integral to brand-customer relationship management due to its large user base.

It is now owned by Meta, the parent company of Facebook, which is building on the app by introducing new features. This may lead to a drastic change in how WhatsApp is used in the next few years, but for now, the app seems to be going strong.

WhatsApp’s key features iclude:

  • End-to-End encryption for everything
  • Group messaging (up to 512 participants) and group audio/video calls
  • Selectively private status
  • In-app peer-to-peer payments
  • Sign-in available on multiple devices
  • One-to-many broadcast lists
  • Supported by iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, and Web
  • Delivery and read receipts

WhatsApp also launched WhatsApp Business to provide better services to the people who were using the app solely for business purposes. This version of WhatsApp lets you send automated texts to potential customers and people who approach your business.

➡️ However, WhatsApp wasn't build for internal communication. Learn more about WhatsApp's dos and don'ts for team communication.

The best messaging app for finding old friends: Messenger

messaging app

This chat app lets you connect with people whose phone number you don't have. Although many tend to believe one needs a Facebook account to use Messenger, that is untrue. One can sign up for the app with their phone number and chat with anyone using the service. People with a Facebook account can easily message their Facebook friends and other users who are on Messenger.

Apart from the basic calling and texting features, Messenger also allows you to create and send media messages with filters and share them with individuals or a group of up to 250 people. It also enables the group video call participants to watch media together; companies may capitalize on this to solve customer queries and improve their service.

Despite Facebook having no end-to-end encryption, the ability to make a conversation untraceable using the ‘Go to Secret Conversation’ feature on Messenger is a big plus. One can enable end-to-end encryption for the receiver of their message with this feature as well.

According to the official website, Messenger will soon introduce augmented reality (AR) effects to create engaging media and selfie stickers for personalized communication.

Messenger’s key features:

  • Optional privacy
  • Wide user base
  • Audio/video calls
  • Peer-to-peer payments
  • Supported by iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, and Web

According to statistics, more than of the world's population uses Facebook every month, which makes Messenger a free, convenient option to connect with almost anyone. Messenger also has dedicated solutions for business owners to reach their customers with the help of sound features that enable quality lead generation, integrate with Instagram, and offer customer service, among other things.

The best messaging app for secure business communication: Rocket.Chat

messaging app

Rocket.Chat is often considered a more secure alternative to Slack, but it's much more. Built on open source, Rocket.Chat is a collaboration platform that truly lets you connect with anyone: with coworkers, partners external to your organization, and customers. Due to its omnichannel features and Matrix federation capabilities, you can connect with people irrespective of the communication channel they use on their end.

Rocket.Chat can also be used to build other types of messaging experiences, for example an in-app chat inside a mobile app, live chat on website, or an online chat room. What sets it apart from other similar tools are its security features, which make Rocket.Chat a fully fledged enterprise communication tool for organizations in highly-regulated industries such as Healthcare, Government, or Financial Services.

Rocket.Chat's key features include:

  • encrypted messaging
  • on-premise deployment
  • more than 150 integrations with other tools
  • advanced flexibility, customizability, and scalability options
  • omnichannel features

Rocket.Chat has both free and paid versions. Smaller teams that don't require specialized setup can use it free of charge, while bigger organizations with extra security needs opt for a paid version.

Get started with Rocket.Chat’s secure collaboration platform

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The best messaging + email combination: Spike

messaging app

Spike's comprehensive email and messaging solution caters to a diverse array of communication needs, providing an ideal platform for both individual users and teams of all sizes. By seamlessly integrating chat, email, collaborative notes, meetings and AI into a unified feed, Spike simplifies and streamlines communication workflows. Whether you're a small business owner or part of a bustling team, Spike offers intuitive tools designed to enhance productivity and collaboration.

Effortlessly connect with your team and external stakeholders, such as clients, partners, customers, and vendors, irrespective of whether they use Spike or not. Spike offers the flexibility to use your own email domain or conveniently acquire a custom domain directly from Spike, ensuring secure, reliable, and archivable email and messaging functions while maintaining brand consistency.

Spike works seamlessly with most email providers, including iCloud, Office 365, MS Exchange, AOL Mail, Hotmail, Outlook, Yahoo Mail, IMAP, and more.

Spike's key features:

  • Custom Domain: Connect your existing email domain or get one from Spike.
  • Channels & Groups: Company-wide and private spaces to discuss any project or topic.
  • Unified Agenda: Manage multiple calendars from one place, with no app switching required.
  • Conversational Email: Email that feels like chat, making it effortless to stay responsive.
  • Magic AI: Spike’s AI-powered assistant helps you write better emails, reply faster, summarize PDFs, and more.

The most private messaging app: Signal

messaging app

Although this messaging app does not offer much flexibility for customization, Signal is regarded as one of the most secure text messaging apps because of its end-to-end encryption with a highly regarded encryption protocol. One can also set expiration dates for each conversation and limit the availability of the messages you share. The expired messages are non-recoverable, which adds to the privacy factor.

Apart from its clean look, it is quite simple to use as almost everything can be operated from a single screen. A recent Signal update lets users share stories, similar to WhatsApp’s status, that are end-to-end encrypted.

Signal may not be as popular as WhatsApp, but this simple and effective messaging app is gaining regional popularity. With security and simplicity being its two foundational pillars, Signal is suitable for people whose primary concern is utmost data privacy.

Signal’s key features:

  • Audio/video calls
  • End-to-end encryption
  • Supported by iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Web, and Linux
  • Group chats with up to 1,000 participants

You can easily download the Signal app on your device and begin to explore the full range of features for free. Android users can also use Signal as their stock SMS app and send regular messages and Signal messages to people who don’t use Signal through a single interface.

The best messaging app for reaching large groups: Telegram

messaging app

Telegram is another robust instant messaging app that is quite popular for connecting with a large number of people and sharing large files. Compared to WhatsApp, Telegram offers more flexibility in terms of file sharing; many people prefer using Telegram to send large files from their device’s local storage.

It offers security to its users with a different approach—the conversations happening on Telegram are stored on its servers. People who are looking for added security can enable end-to-end encryption with Telegram’s Secret Chats feature. Additionally, you can also set self-district timers for any secret messages you send through secret chats. 

Telegram is quite flexible in terms of security as well; you can use a convenient standard version or opt for a safer version where the chats are not stored in the cloud. The best part is you can log in to your account from multiple devices and desktop apps.

Group chats are quite accommodating, as Telegram lets you add many people as participants and unlimited subscribers. One of the drawbacks of Telegram is that it is not equally popular in all the world regions. For brands that are trying to reach their customers worldwide, communicating with the clientele through Telegram may require additional work to make installing and signing up on the app worth the effort for their customers.

Telegram’s key features:

  • Multiple device logins
  • Supported by Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, Web, and Linux
  • Audio/video calls
  • Text messages
  • Group chats with up to 200,000 participants
  • Open API

Telegram is free to use for basic features, but one can use the premium version for roughly $4.99/month, which is free of the few non-intrusive ads and update upload limits (from 2 GB to 4 GB).

The best messaging app for gamers: Discord

chat app

Having started as a gaming-focused instant messaging platform that allowed gamers to connect with each other while simultaneously playing games over voice channels, Discord has now evolved into one of the best messaging apps for general use. The numerous features are an ideal match for large communities and groups.

Discord lets you set up your own server and scale it up to connect with thousands of people utilizing bots and build several channels, among other things. Subscribing to Discord Nitro service lets you enjoy higher-quality streaming and other premium features that can be beneficial for large organizations working remotely.

Discord’s key features:

  • High-quality HD streaming
  • Low-latency audio/video calls
  • Community moderation tools
  • Customer member access
  • Private channels
  • Supported by Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, Web, and Linux
  • Direct message filters to limit distractions and avoid spam

Discord has become the best messaging app for large communities and groups that is free. You can get additional features with a premium subscription to Discord Nitro.

The most popular workplace chat: Slack

messaging app

About 67.4% of the global workforce uses messaging apps daily to converse with their teams, and Slack is one of the most popular tools in this area.

In its ability to allow users to create separate channels, Slack is somewhat similar to Discord. However, this work chat app stands out through numerous features that are suitable for business communication. With automation bots you can delegate repetitive tasks to, Slack makes it easy to maximize your workflow. Managing and tracking documents is also extremely easy with this platform.

Slack enables you to collaborate with people from outside of your organization that also use Slack. You can keep all work-related communication in a single app through dedicated tools for organizing meetings within the app, which is one of the things that makes Slack the most popular messaging app for the workplace.

Slack’s key features:

  • Automation bots
  • Message pinning
  • Single sign-on
  • Data at rest and in transit encryption
  • Controlled visibility and access
  • In-app documentation
  • Supported by Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, and Web
  • Integration with other apps

Slack offers numerous indispensable features to enable smooth workflow communications with industry- or department-specific solutions for free. Even though it's a great tool, it's not perfect for every team. There is numerous alternatives to Slack you can explore.

What to look for in a messaging app?

The ideal messaging app for you or for your business should meet certain, albeit different, criteria. Here's what we believe you should consider:

1. Ability to connect with anyone

Messaging apps are not about the app as much as they are about the people who you wish to connect with. If your friends are using WhatsApp, you will naturally want to reach out to them via that specific platform.

But, suppose you are concerned about communication within your team of remote employees from different parts of the world. In that case, going for a secure and common messaging app that everyone can use is ideal. The perfect messaging app should also be available on different operating systems as every one may not use the same type of devices.

Even if the messaging app you choose is not preferred by others you wish to connect with, an ideal messaging app should allow you to send messages to the people who are not using it without changing the platform again and again.

And when we talk about connecting with anyone, businesses recognize the power of messaging more and more. Recent YouGov Research shows that: 

  • 83% of customers are willing to browse and buy products/services via chat.
  • About 74% of consumers prefer to do business with a company that provides chat support instead of call support for its customers.
  • A majority of millennials and Gen Z, comprising about 1.8 billion people worldwide (23% of the global population), prefer texting over other forms of communication.

These stats definitely show that customer communication should rely on messaging more and more!

2. Price

Generally, when trying to reach a large audience, most people aren’t willing to pay for a messaging app, especially when they have free good alternatives. You can find a myriad of free messaging apps on the market.

There are also free messaging apps for internal business communication, although price should not be the primary criteria for privacy-conscious businesses or large teams. It pays off to invest in an app that will guarantee the privacy of your conversations.

3. Rich media support

People want to be able to share photos, videos, GIFs, links, documents, and send long texts through a single platform while communicating. Thus, a majority of people use apps that offer media support. Whether you want to improve the communication system of your team or reach your customers, look for a messaging app that enables you to share different kinds of media easily.

4. Data privacy

The need for data privacy and security is increasing day by day as online scams and data thefts are becoming more prevalent. Using a messaging app with poor data privacy architecture not only hampers the trust of the people you are communicating with but also puts businesses at financial and legal risks. Secure collaboration tools are essential to companies operating in highly regulated industries such as Healthcare, Financial Services, or Government.

5. User-friendliness

A messaging app should be easy to set up and use, as anything that seems like a hassle may discourage users from using it. Take yourself as the best example: you'd probably feel overwhelmed by a complicated system while all you want to do is simply communicate with others.

User-friendliness is an important aspect of a team chat, too. Team members may abandon the company’s primary and secure messaging app and resort to other modes of communication if it's not easy to use. Similarly, if the customers don’t find a particular app convenient to use, they will likely shift to a more user-friendly option.

➡️ Additionally, engaging chat features like message reactions, last-seen indicators, read receipts, specific message replies, and others, make texting engaging. It's becoming the standard both in consumer and business messaging apps as it improves user experience.

Reach out to Rocket.Chat's team and find out how we compare!

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Sara is an SEO Strategist at Rocket.Chat. She is passionate about topics around digital transformation, workplace experience, open source, and data privacy and security.
Sara Ana Cemazar
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