This is going to let on our age, but do you remember ICQ? If you don’t, well, that’s okay. After all, its first version was released in 1996, and maybe you were too young then to appreciate what some would call the beginning of social media. Take it from us, though; ICQ used to be this really cool instant messaging client with free daily-limited SMS sending, greeting cards, resumable file transfers, and a list of seemingly never-ending features. You may not think it’s all that, what with Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and a host of other instant messaging apps that we’re having a hard time keeping track of just because there are so many of them nowadays. But back then, ICQ was the king “with requests for UINs (unique identification numbers) becoming as common as those for phone numbers in some circles.”
Of course, like all good things, ICQ came to an end (yes, technically it’s still around; but it was never able to regain its former glory) and out came newer, better, instant messaging platforms. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular instant messaging apps today, so you can decide if you should stick to your favorite messenger or if it’s time to try a new one.
Described as “a cross-platform mobile messaging app,” WhatsApp is marketed as a “better SMS alternative.” It was designed with smartphone users in mind, and is available for Android, iPhone, Blackberry, Nokia, and Windows Phone. The beauty of WhatsApp is that you can chat for free with other WhatsApp users; plus you get great features like neat customization tools, group chat, easy location, and so on. There’s no doubt that you’ll save money, which you would otherwise spend on text charges (via your carrier and across platforms). However, you should note that it doesn’t have a desktop client at the moment; nor does it interact with other messaging programs. Still, all things considered, WhatsApp is “a must-have for those with friends overseas or who typically rack up huge texting fees.”
“But it’s super fun!” is something we imagine ChatON users say to their friends when questioned about the app’s no calling option. There’s also the slow speed and the fact that it occupies so much memory space; but we cannot question its popularity, as evidenced by its 4 out of 5 stars Google Play rating. Developed by Samsung, ChatON also has versions for PC and iOS, as well as Blackberry, bada, and of course, Android. It “covers 68 languages and is accessible in 120 countries” and “can instantly connect up to five devices simultaneously just by logging in to your Samsung account.” As ChatON users ourselves, we would have to say that the best perk is the variety of anicons (animated icons) available—including childhood faves such as Super Pig, Mashimaro, Pucca, and many more.
Self-destructing messages? It seems too Mission Impossible-ish to us, and maybe not really our cup of tea since we are somewhat obsessed about documenting everything. But if the emergence of apps that let users send disappearing messages is an indication of fame, then we would have to say that there really must be something novel about the idea. After all, if even Facebook is getting in on the action (hello, Poke!) then who are we to question Snapchat’s and its clones’ popularity?
Created by Stanford students Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy in 2011, Snapchat is a free app that “allows a user to take a photo or video and send said such content to friends who can see it for up to 10 seconds.” According to Spiegel, “Snapchat was created in response to “emergency de-tagging of Facebook before job interviews and Photoshopping blemishes out of candid shots before they hit the Internet.” It can also be “used by children to send pictures to their parents of their whereabouts and self-portraits.”
A few notes on instant messaging
As we said, there are many chat apps or instant messaging clients out there, some of which you may have already tried and loved (or hated). We are all for trying different options if you really want to find the app that fits your lifestyle best; however, we wouldn’t recommend them as the only mode of communication you should invest in if you are running a business. If you really want to save money, you may want to look into virtual PBX, which does away with costly equipment but still enables businesses “to utilize telephony features like voicemail, faxing, automated greetings, touchtone menus, conference calling, call auditing and calling logs, and more.”
About the Author (Author Profile)
This article is written by Mark Gallagher, who just started out as a freelance writer this year. He contributes his work to some blog sites that is related to his area of interest. He usually writes about technology, telecommunication systems such as the RingCentral business phone and cloud phone, as well as all the latest gadgets including smartphones and tablets. Follow him on Google+.
SubscribeSubscribe to TechIVY and Grab my New EBOOK "How To Stop Worrying & Start BLOGGING" for FREE!!!!
If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to receive more just like it.