By Anne Collier
Everybody’s, including kids’, texting and talking options continue to multiply like rabbits. First there was texting from your mobile carrier, then phone-based texting like Apple’s iMessage and voice via computers (later adding in phones) as with Google Voice and Skype. Along came texting apps too, such as the simple and spare WhatsApp now owned by Facebook and the something-for-everybody, multi-feature, China-based WeChat, which lags behind WhatsApp by only about 100 million users (the latter now at about 500 million). Next came apps focused on other things, like photo- or video-sharing, that had a messaging component and apps focused more on chat than texting (in differing shades of gray). The layers and kinds of choices are amazing. Some people prefer having a bunch of apps on their phones that do one thing, others a few apps that do lots of things.
With new iMessage features in it’s just unveiled iOS 8, “Apple is now attacking messaging apps head-on,” reports BGR.com – features like being able to respond to emails and invitations, even ‘like’ Facebook posts directly from the notifications center, and being able to “share your location with people in your threads so you see where each other is located. Apple has “also added a ‘tap-to-talk’ feature that will let you just hold down your screen to turn on your microphone and speak your message into the thread. What’s even cooler is that you can listen to audio of one another’s messages just by raising the phone to your ear, essentially taking all of the hassle out of traditional voicemail services. Best of all,” BGR adds, “you can finally leave group message threads or silence individual threads with Do Not Disturb.”
[BTW, even though WeChat of Chinese Internet giant Tencent has 100 million few users than Whatsapp, it’s the fastest-growing texting (not to mention shopping, gaming and banking) app. It grew at a rate of 1098.8% between the first quarter of 2013 and this year’s Q1 and is No. 1 in most Asia-Pacific countries as well as India, according to wireless news site TruTower.com. WeChat, like all social media in China, is also “heavily monitored by the Chinese government,” according to news site Quartz. Please see the Quartz piece for details on the differences between the top 2 texting apps.]
Starting at No. 1, the world’s top 9 messaging apps are WhatsApp in Silicon Valley, WeChat in Shenzhen, South Korea-based Line, South Korea-based KakaoTalk, southern California-based SnapChat, Viber (developed in Israel and acquired by Rakuten in Japan), California-based Tango, Nimbuzz (developed in Rotterdam, now in New Delhi), and Kik (developed in Ontario), according to WallStCheatSheet.com. Communicators customize based on personal prefs and practices, where their friends are, culture, social conditions and what they want to say about themselves with the tools they use.