Following on from our social media guide, we now turn our attention to some of the top instant messaging platforms which you can use in order to stay in touch with your family and friends.
These apps have become increasingly popular over the past few years, especially when your friends have gone on holiday and you wish to speak to them. Through the use of Wi-Fi you can communicate and send photographs for free, rather than having to use your phone's data to text and call people.
Here are a few examples that we believe would be useful for you to have in your life.
WhatsApp / Viber
WhatsApp and Viber are too very similar instant messaging apps for your mobile phones and tablets. Both apps let you communicate with your friends and family over Wi-Fi through ‘text messaging’.
This app is brilliant when you go on holiday as you can use them to check-in with your children and friends etc, rather than being charged silly amounts for using data. Both are set-up using your phone’s contacts book so you will need to make sure your contacts have the relevant app in order to chat with them.
You can choose to either text or call your contacts depending on your preference. Both apps also let you have group chats so it is really down to your preferences or the app that more of your friends have.
WhatsApp has really taken over this market and is often talked about in the mainstream media. Within your individual chats you can send videos, images and common messages. You can also send emoji icons like you could on your regular text service.
On WhatsApp you can even see when your friend or family member has seen your messages, which means you can tell them off if they ignore you for too long! The app will also state when that person was last active on the app - which is a nice little touch.
Out of the two Viber is the more colourful, with its purple banners and changeable backgrounds. The decision really is yours. Both are free so it could be best to download both apps on to your mobile device just so you have everybody covered.
Skype is excellent, not only for instant messaging with the text service but also for video chat. After creating a profile on Skype you can begin to add your friends and family to your account by searching for their user names.
Skype can be downloaded on to your mobiles, tablets, laptops and computers either through your respective App store or through the Skype website. Once you have added them to your account you can choose to either video call them or instant message them through the chat window. If you are looking for a group reunion then you can also have a group video chat to help bring your family and friends together.
Skype is a great way to see how your grandchildren are growing up at University or at their new homes after they have moved out from their parent’s house.
We have already talked about Facebook in our social media guide but during the past couple of years the company has rolled out it’s own separate app for its messaging option. If you are on Facebook then the app will have already forced you to download the instant messaging app onto your mobile phone.
On ‘Messenger’ you will be able to start and continue talking to your Facebook friends on a text-type conversation screen. On there you are able to send photos from your phone, take an instant photograph on your camera and add ’emotions’ to your conversation.
You can also choose to ring your friends through the app – just like you can with WhatsApp and Viber. Video chat is also available if you wish to see your friends as you speak.
If you are part of a team or have a group of best friends then you can add more than one person to the conversation and create a group chat. Messenger will also send you a sound alert and a pop-up message to let you know that somebody has sent you a message – just in case you are away from your phone.
Messenger even has a clever little indicator which shows when your friend or family member has seen the message you have sent, so they cannot get away with ignoring you.
You will have definitely overheard your grandchildren, or even your own children for that matter, talking about using Snapchat on their mobile phones. This is the app which people use to send photographs, filtered images and short videos to their friends.
The app's main appeal is that, depending on your settings, those who receive your images can only see them once and only for 10 seconds maximum.
One thing that you may not be aware of however is that Snapchat does actually have an instant messaging feature - albeit a small one compared to its rivals. The theme is similar to the photographs as the messages will automatically disappear once the app has been closed. However, messages can be saved if necessary.
To enter the messenger section of the app, simply slide the contact's section on your inbox to the right and the conversation page will appear. The screen then becomes very similar to a common messenger set-up, with a type here and enter button.
This one is more for a quick chat then a proper conversation - if you were looking for one of those then we would suggest sticking to WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.
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