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Best Messaging Apps including Privacy Focused Ones to Share and Connect

best free and paid messaging apps
Best Free and Paid Messaging Apps

What to Look for in Messaging Apps

  • Ease of use.
  • End-to-end encryption.
  • Privacy.
  • Security.
  • Whether you can sign up without sharing your personal info?
  • Does the app upload your contact list to their servers?
  • Does the app log or store any metadata?
  • Does the app encrypt metadata?
  • Are the messages, media, calls and contacts encrypted end to end in transit and on device?
  • Does the app provide self destructing messages?
  • Has the app shared any customer data with intelligence agencies in the past?
  • Are any backdoors added to the apps for surveillance?
  • Who owns or funds the app or company?
  • Does the app collect any customer data?
  • Is the app open source (both the client and the server)?
  • Can the app read your messages?
  • Does the app provide Perfect Forward Secrecy?
  • Is the data stored on the cloud encrypted?
  • Does the app log your IP address?
  • How is the company’s general stand on customer privacy?
  • Does the app turn on encryption by default?

Using end-to-end encrypted messaging apps does not mean that they do not collect metadata.

Except otherwise stated all apps are available on all platforms including Android, iOS, Mac and Windows.

What You Can Do with Messaging Apps

  • Chat
  • Voice Call
  • Video Call
  • Conference Calls
  • File Sharing
  • Location Sharing
  • Create Groups
  • Create Channels
  • Create Automated Bots

Free Messaging Apps

  • Signal
  • Telegram
  • WhatsApp
  • Messenger
  • Skype
  • iMessage
  • Viber
  • LINE
  • Wickr

Paid Messaging Apps

  • Threema

Signal

  • Made in USA.
  • Independent and run by Signal Foundation through user donations.
  • Fast, simple, secure and privacy focused.
  • No ads or trackers.
  • Powered by open source Signal Protocol.
  • No one including Signal can ever read your messages or listen to your calls.
  • Sealed Sender ensures that even Signal does not know who is messaging whom.
  • Signal has no record of your data, not even metadata.
  • Encrypts metadata while sending.
  • Data is stored locally on your device. So only you can access it and no one else.
  • Signal only knows the date and time you registered for the service and the last date you communicated with them.
  • Does not log your IP address.
  • Block screenshots inside Signal.
  • Activate incognito keyboard.
  • Enable /disable read receipts and typing indicators.
  • Set interval to delete messages automatically.
  • Disappearing messages self destruct from your device as well as the person you send to.
  • Add reactions to messages and chat.
  • Recommended by Edward Snowden, Jack Dorsey, Laura Poitras, Bruce Schneier, United States Military, Senators, and European commission.

Telegram

  • Based in Dubai.
  • Based on proprietary MTProto.
  • Feature rich.
  • Secure as all data is stored decentralized at multiple locations across the globe.
  • Access your messages from any device as it is cloud based.
  • Send unlimited files and media upto 2GB each.
  • Block people.
  • Find people by their username.
  • Add people nearby or join groups nearby.
  • Decide who can see your mobile number.
  • Decide whether people can find you by your number.
  • Decide who can see your profile photo.
  • Decide whether forwarded messages can include your account link.
  • Decide who can call you.
  • Create channels to allow unlimited users to follow you.
  • Schedule messages.
  • Create reminders out of saved messages.
  • Send silent messages to members of groups and channels.
  • All media is stored encrypted on Telegram servers.
  • Chat folders.
  • Telegram Passport is a unified authorization method for services that require personal identification.
  • Secret chats are device specific and not part of Telegram cloud.
  • Secret chats don’t allow forwarding messages.
  • Secret chat messages can only be accessed from the device they were sent to or from.
  • Create groups of upto 2,00,000 users.
  • Groups can be private or public.
  • Decide if group members are allowed to send messages, media, stickers, create polls, embed links, add new users, pin messages, or change chat info.
  • Statistics for groups size above 500 and channels above 1,000.
  • Slow Mode in groups restrict members to send one message per chosen interval.
  • Bots are made by third party developers except the official ones.
  • Add @GDPRbot to request copy of all your data stored with Telegram.
  • Contact @NoToScam, if someone is pretending to be you.
  • Add @BotFather, to add or update your bot.
  • Contact @Username_bot if your username is already taken by someone.
  • Add @telegram, to receive Telegram news.
  • Add @IFTTT to connect with over 360 services on IFTTT platform.
  • If you find any bot, channel, or sticker infringing your copyright, file a complaint with [email protected]

WhatsApp

  • Made in USA.
  • Owned by Facebook.
  • Fast, simple, secure.
  • End-to-end encrypted.
  • Make voice and video calls.
  • Send voice messages.
  • Share location.
  • Groups can be of upto 256 people.
  • Send documents upto 100MB in size.
  • Choose who can see your personal info and location.
  • Use WhatsApps Business to provide customer support and deliver important notifications to customers.

Messenger

  • Made in USA.
  • Owned by Facebook.
  • Sign in with your Facebook credentials.
  • Can be enabled to receive SMS and MMS messages.
  • Switch on off your active status to others.
  • Choose your username.
  • Enable disable secret conversations.
  • Block people from sending you messages.
  • Enable data saver mode.
  • Choose who can see your stories.
  • Archive stories.
  • Send self destructing messages.
  • Set nicknames for connected people.
  • Share location.
  • Messenger Lite app also available.

Skype

  • Made in USA.
  • Owned by Microsoft.
  • Skype-to-Skype calls are free.
  • Skype-to-phone are chargeable.
  • Host video or audio conference with upto 50 people.
  • Host a video meeting with no sign ups or downloads, just share the link. Guest accounts expire in 24 hours.
  • Share your screen in meetings.
  • Record videos.
  • Turn subtitles.
  • Share media, contacts or location.
  • Files can also be shared from your OneDrive storage.
  • Schedule calls.
  • Create polls.
  • SMS Connect allows you to read and reply to your SMS messages from your PC or Mac.
  • Block people.
  • Create groups.
  • Enable caller id, call forwarding and voicemail.
  • Enable call subtitles.
  • Enable read receipts.
  • Enable if people can find you by your mobile number.
  • Enable private conversations.
  • Skype Lite and Skype for Business also available.

iMessage

  • Made in USA.
  • Owned by Apple.
  • Available only for iPhones, iPads and Mac.
  • No Apple device to test myself.

Viber

  • Made in Japan.
  • Fast, secure and end-to-end encrypted.
  • Hide chats from your chat list and access with a pin.
  • Receive regular phone calls in Viber.
  • Make regular phone calls using Viber Out, need to buy credits.
  • Chose who can see your photo and status.
  • Use proxy server.
  • Wi-Fi sleep policy allows you to decide whether to keep Wi-Fi always active or not.
  • Get a local number in another country (Canada, USA, UK).
  • Save notes, check off when done.
  • Encryption keys exist only on user devices and nowhere else. So no one, not even Viber, can read your messages.
  • Enable self destructing messages.
  • Edit or delete already send messages for all.
  • Get notifications if a screenshot is taken when disappearing messages are on.
  • Communities are like group chat with unlimited members.
  • Communities allow you to decide people who can send messages, deleted unwanted messages individually or in bulk, ban members for violating rules and add admins.
  • New members in communities can like, reply and mention other members.
  • Phone numbers of members are hidden in communities.
  • See stats in communities with more than 1,000 members.
  • Viber cannot read or listen to your chats and calls.
  • Viber does not access, read or sell your private conversations.
  • Nothing you share is stored on Viber servers.
  • Chats with bots, Public Accounts and communities are not end-to-end encrypted.
  • Contacts are stored on Viber servers.
  • Instantly delete your data from Viber servers.

LINE

  • Make voice, video calls or chat.
  • Make group audio, video calls with meetings.
  • Share contact, media, or location.
  • Create polls.
  • Schedule events.
  • Let other users search by your ID and mobile number.
  • Reject messages not sent by your friends.
  • Choose if you want to receive voice calls from others.
  • Watch ads and make free calls (domestic, international) with LINE Out.
  • Choose if you want to be followed by people who are not your friend.
  • Save notes and media in LINE Keep.
  • Search people nearby.
  • LINE Lite also available.

Threema

  • Made in Switzerland.
  • Pay once and use forever.
  • Ad free.
  • Does not collect user data.
  • All data is end-to-end encrypted.
  • Only the intended recipient is able to decrypt and read a message.
  • Chat anonymously using just Threema ID.
  • Does not collect personally identifiable information.
  • Data is stored only on users device.
  • Threema doesn’t log who is communicating with whom.
  • Does not log your IP address.
  • Encrypts metadata while sending.
  • Independent company.
  • Send “info” to Threema ID *MY3DATA to see your data stored on Threema’s servers.
  • Threema Work also available.

Wickr Me

  • Made in USA.
  • Only information Wickr has is the date your account was created, the date of last use and the type of device on which such account was installed.
  • Does not log or store any metadata.
  • Does not log your IP address.
  • Encrypts metadata while sending.
  • All data is stored only on your device.
  • Sign up without your phone number.
  • Screenshots and screen recording is prevented.
  • Secure Shredder ensures deleted data cannot be recovered from your device.
  • Find people with their Wickr IDs.
  • Make voice calls.
  • Share media and location.
  • Send quick responses.
  • Set expiration for messages.
  • Set burn on read time to auto delete messages after reading.
  • Recall allows retract a message already sent.
  • Reply to a particular message.
  • Send voice memos.
  • Create group of upto 500 people.

Features specific to Wickr Pro

  • Free for upto 30 users.
  • 1GB file transfer.
  • Data retention for upto 30 days.
  • Secure voice and video calls with upto 30 people.
  • Secure screen sharing.
  • Unlimited searches.
  • Device sync.

Enterprise plans also available.

Pro Tips

  • Do not open files or photos coming from people you do not know to keep your device from getting hacked even while using the most secure and private messengers in the world.
  • Only few apps prohibit screenshots.
  • Only share verified information.

Best Privacy Focused Messaging Apps

  • Signal
  • Threema
  • Wickr

Moral of the Story

  • Signal – most secure and private messenger to chat with the known people.
  • Telegram – easy to access from any device as all data is stored in the cloud.
  • WhatsApp – simple and easy to use.
  • Messenger – connect with Facebook friends on messenger.
  • Skype – allows you to schedule calls.
  • iMessage – exclusive for Apple devices.
  • LINE – watch ads and make free calls.
  • Viber – easily transfer calls between devices.
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