iMore's guide to the best, most reliable, and most widely used cross-platform messaging apps that are available for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone.
What will it take to get every app on every platform? That's the question we're asking on Talk Mobile today. When it comes to messaging solutions, there's definitely some fragmentation present. Odds are you have friends that don't have iPhones, but Androids or BlackBerries instead. Since iMessage is exclusive to iOS and OS X, you'll have to find another option to communicate with friends and family on other platforms. While texting is always a viable option domestically, international messaging is still an issue for many.
Here are the messaging apps we think you should check out if you need a better way to communicate with all the Android, BlackBerry, and WindowsPhone users out there.
If you use Facebook and all your other friends do, Facebook Messenger is an easy and convenient way to converse with friends and family either over WiFi or over the cellular network. Facebook Messenger is a separate app download outside of the regular Facebook app and focuses strictly on messaging.
With support for push notifications, group conversations, and more, it's a message option that your friends are most likely already tied into. Facebook Messenger is currently available for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry.
Whatsapp has been around for quite a while and provides an easy and free way to send messages. With over 200 million registered Whatsapp users, you may find more people using it than you think. Whatsapp is also available for a broad number of platforms including iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Nokia S40, and Symbian. That should about cover any platforms you need to.
Whatsapp also supports unlimited group messaging as well as unlimited audio, video, and photo sharing. It's also got a pretty nice interface which is an added bonus.
Skype is one of the most widely used platforms on the internet when it comes to audio and video conferencing with over 300 million registered users to date. Let's also not forget that it has pretty good messaging capabilities built right in. Recent updates have also given it a pretty clean and elegant interface as well. Skype also comes equipped with push notifications so you know you're receiving your messages when you need to.
Skype to Skype messaging will be free, anywhere in the world. Skype has apps available for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone.
Google Hangouts is a great place to chat with friends in groups or individually and if you are already tied into Google services such as Gmail, you'll be right at home since all your contacts from Google+ will automatically import.
Not only is Hangouts feature rich, it's also a gorgeous app. If you're looking forward to iOS 7 and like the design it carriers, Google seems to get it when it comes to flat interfaces and Hangouts is no exception. Everything from the way contacts are laid out to chat bubbles is carefully thought out and gorgeous.
Kik has been around for quite some time and has a user base of over 50 million users. The thing I really like about Kik is the user interface. It's clean and easy to navigate. Push notifications are super fast and it can automatically pull in anyone you know that's already using Kik, just like Whatsapp can.
Kik may not have as many users as some of the other big guys but it's still a very viable alternative if you don't fancy any of the others and can convince your friends Kik is the way to go. Kik has apps for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, and Ovi. It's worth noting that the BlackBerry version of the app is not supported by RIM and will need to be downloaded on its own.
Piip is another cross-platform messaging option that a lot of people forget about. It's got support for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, and Windows Phone as well as many other devices. While I prefer the interface and design of apps like Skype and Kik better, Piip is also very good at what it does and has a pretty large user base as well.
Piip features include unlimited sending of group messages, message status reports, and photo, video, and audio sharing. Much like the other guys, Piip does what it says it does, and does it well.
BlackBerry Messenger isn't out for iPhone and Android just yet but should be later this summer. RIM has a stellar track record with BBM and it's a service many BlackBerry users past have sorely missed when migrating to other platforms.
We're sure BlackBerry Messenger will be a crowd favorite once it's officially launched for iPhone and Android. If you have a lot of friends using BlackBerries, you'll have instant access to them the minute you download BBM. We'll have a more thorough review of the service as soon as its available later in the summer.
If you're only concerned about sending messages within your home country and don't have a need for international texting, regular SMS may be the best option and it's something that comes equipped on every smartphone nowadays. Not only that, most carriers now bundle unlimited text messages with shared data plans which makes it more attainable than before.
If none of the apps above catch your fancy or you can't get all your friends to jump on board with only one cross-platform messaging solution, native SMS may be the safest bet across the board.
What do you use for either cross-platform messaging or to send international text messages as a cheaper alternative to native SMS? These are some of our favorites but we know, you the readers, find some great ones on your own as well. Let us know in the comments!