Chat is not a recent phenomenon. Unlike email though, Chat apps can be ‘all consuming’ since the conversation is in real-time. That, and the fact that you need a group to chat makes it really important that you and your buddies are on the same app.

Yes, there is something called “chat app aggregators”. No, I don’t quite use them regularly. This post is not about them – rather about some of the chat applications that you must use, but you most probably aren’t.

Provided I already mentioned about “all related parties” being on the platform to be on same platform, why should you even start considering that?

  • Less noise: filtering fluff is not always easy and you may want to classify ‘important’ vs ‘can wait’, or personal vs professional conversations
  • Exclusivity: get your group to stand aside from the common folk (the ‘cattle class’ as the English call it)
  • Switch to something that is more supportive of the niche that you are in (e.g. enable voice chat for gaming)
  • Create a new profile: Your old profile is not doing you any good? It is maybe time to switch to a new one!

Considerations for a Good Chat App

  1. Ability to share different types of posts (image, video – no problem)
  2. Offer different types/levels of privacy for your group and for you individually
  3. Secure, with features including end-to-end encryption

Show me the Apps

The moment I mentioned chat – you must have thought about ‘WhatsApp’. With almost 1.5 billion users, WhatsApp is the most popular chat app that offers end-to-end encryption, zero advertising (though that is probably set to change in future), and support by a large powerful corporation that will not shutdown anytime soon. WhatsApp is only trailed by its cousin, Facebook Messenger.

Everyone and their dog is on these platforms, but do consider the below for ‘advanced’ uses. The fact that these platforms are completely free, and not having any ads is a big plus.

1. Signal

Developed by one of the most trusted not-for-profit names ‘Open Whisper Systems’, Signal offers a secure, user-friendly platform that is adored by many.

  • Text, voice, video
  • Auto-destructive messages
  • Free to use, open source. Ad-free
  • Use with Android/ iPhone devices or through web

2. Telegram

Telegram rose to prominence pretty quickly, and sometimes for the wrong reasons. Known to be used by terrorists alongside the regular Joe, Telegram is advertised as safe, simple and completely free app. It does live up to that reputation.

  • Manage large groups
  • Share large files – documents and media
  • Automatic drafts that remain synced on all your devices
  • Alongside the regular encryption, it also supports peer-to-peer individually encrypted messages that can be read by only the intended recipient
  • Fast – faster than other apps in the market
  • Set messages and files to auto-destruct
  • Free and no ads

Telegram lacks voice / video support.

3. Tox.chat


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Tox.chat is a more recent app that has the potential to blow away the rest! Powered by distributed servers, Tox provides free everything without ads.

  • Distributed platform
  • Text, media/files, voice, video
  • Screen sharing

4. Niche Chat Apps

Switch to apps that help you get stuff done – be it gaming or programming! I like the following –

Discord

What mainly started as gaming enabler has quickly spread its wings as a team paradise. Open APIs, fast voice calls and ability to share work space has made it an effective, but free Slack replacement.

Take note, however, that Discord does not provide end-to-end encryption – it not your typical chat platform!

Spectrum.chat

Seeking help on Next.js drove me to the Spectrum platform. Loved by Javascript (?) geeks, Spectrum allows you to easily manage communities and preserve Chat history for future usage.

You say?

Which super-powered platform do you use for chat?