With today’s news that Facebook is acquiring WhatsApp for a whopping $19-billion, investors and techies were not the only ones left shocked. Many people who use WhatsApp, but avoid Facebook’s privacy-eschewing ways, found themselves facing a moral conflict. Do they stick with WhatsApp, and take Facebook’s word that it will run the instant messenger as a separate platform? Or do they take their data and contacts, and migrate to a platform that Facebook has nothing to do with?
Short of writing your own messaging client and running your own server, you’ll always have to rely on services operated by others – and have to take their word for what they’ll be doing with your data. But if you have it in for Facebook, specifically, or even want to know what else is out there, here are a few WhatsApp alternatives.
China’s Tencent has what it hopes is the next WhatsApp, and WeChat is being marketed aggressively all over the world. You’ve probably heard the radio ads and seen the billboards – and now could be the right time to check out what all the fuss is about.
Supports: text, audio clips, video calls, and stickers
What started out as a great alternative to Skype has morphed into a great messaging client with superb built-in VOIP calls and file transfer services. The desktop client is a bonus, too – keeps you chatting without your phone.
Supports: text, voice calls, video calls, stickers
Born and devved right here on the sunny shores of SA. The messaging app that started out as an SMS replacement for feature phones now has smartphone apps out, and a whole grown-up platform to support more than just messaging.
Supports: text, shared drawings, audio clips
Hey, wait a minute – isn’t this that Samsung chat app? Sure is, but it’s also got versions for every other smartphone platform, as well as a desktop application so you can keep chatting without taking your phone off charge.
Supports: text, stickers
Some might complain that BlackBerry missed the boat by launching this as late as it did, but it could stand to gain a few users in the form of those fleeing from Facebook.
Supports: text, voice calls, video calls,
It surfaced at about the same time as WhatsApp, but didn’t get bought for many billions. A pity, really, because this fantastic messaging app has a lot of great features built into it.
Supports: text, sketches, YouTube, file transfers
If you’re tired of just sending text messages, how about playing some games or sharing videos? Tango lets you do all that, and even has a desktop client for chatting from your computer.
Supports: games, text, video
The big draw here, like with Skype and Viber, is Nimbuzz’s ability to easily handle voice calls. It’s got a simple, clean layout, and does text messaging without a hassle.
Supports: text, video calls, voice calls, file sharing, games
It might look like a WhatsApp clone, but Line supports a few other nice things, including games, stickers, and other rich media features. There’s far more on offer here than most are likely to ever use.
Supports: text, voice calls, video calls, games, stickers
Rather than focus on one-on-one conversations, GroupMe does as its name suggests and lets friends host conversations in groups. Keeping things simple is support for text-only chats, but there are some nice things like embedding maps – and a desktop client.
Supports: text, file transfers
Decidedly cartoonish in its design, this chat app offers a rich suite of functionality for users to take advantage of.
Supports: file transfers, voice calls, voice notes, location sharing
Feeling somewhat like a cross between WhatsApp and Facebook Chat, MessageMe tries to offer some of what the Asian messaging apps have, in a more American-looking application.
Supports: text, stickers, file transfers
It looks almost like Skype – right down to the blue hues and letting users buy credit to make voice calls – but the oddly-named Maaii also has a few cool features that Skype’s mobile apps don’t support.
Supports: file transfers, audio clips, YouTube embeds, music sharing
Sure, it supports text chats and photo sharing, but Voxer’s raison d’être is that it can be used like a walkie talkie to exchange voice messages in real time.
Supports: text, voice messages, file transfers
We all know and love Skype, and many people even use it regularly for text chats despite its origins as a VOIP call service. It has mobile apps for all the major platforms, and, well, a great desktop app as well.
Supports: text, voice calls, video calls