Best cross-platform messaging apps every iPhone owner should know about!

Best cross-platform messaging apps every iPhone owner should know about!

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.

Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger for iPhone

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

Whatsapp for iPhone

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

Skype for iPhone

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

Google Hangouts for iPhone

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

Kik for iPhone

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

Piip for iPhone

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 (BBM)

BlackBerry Messenger for iPhone

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.

  • Coming soon

SMS messaging

Text Message iPhone 5

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.

Your picks?

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!

Allyson Kazmucha

Editor for iMore, Potter pundit, and the ninja in your iOS

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There are 38 comments. Add yours.

bossmanjunior says:

GroupMe has a nice feature set is my choice for group messaging. Allows pics, videos, emojis and UI is fantastic.

gameson says:

this is sooo subjective article, the write ignores all other apps that she doesn't have in her iPhone. The writer forgot to mention
LINE
KAKAOTALK
WECHAT
VIBER

I am sure I miss others too, and NO, I do not have these apps installed on my phone. All these apps are capable to do cross platforms.

CORYK333 says:

If the title said "every" cross-platform messaging app, you would have a point.......but it doesn't, so she didn't "forget" them. Just thought they weren't worth writing about. Obviously what they think are the "best" won't match with everyone else's opinion, still no need to get all butt-hurt about it & cry foul bc a few are missing.

Allyson Kazmucha says:

I did not include every app every created for cross-platform messaging. I picked the ones I think are worth a look and don't have missing features, terrible interfaces, etc..

If I listed every single one, that would de-value the content. It's something you could do with just a simple search in the App Store. These are recommendations, not a dictionary of every single one available.

And I actually didn't have most of these on my phone to begin with. I had to download them and weed thru many. I deleted the ones that didn't make the cut and wrote about the ones that did.

gameson says:

I understand that this article is for the best. But I look at the list and most of these apps are US centric apps. To be a truly cross platform app, you have to consider cross country app. Cross platform means all users can use the app, and it's not just limited to smartphone (Android, iOS, Windows) only.

Whatsapp is one, but the rest seems so US/Canada centric. No one really use FB messager except US based users. FB Messager is prohibited in China. On the other hand, LINE, KAKAOTALK have cross platform all the way to Nokia Asha line while these are mostly all iOS app only (except again Whatsapp) and have users all over the world, not just US only.

So in my opinion, the best cross platform app must be the app that can reach most users with all different kind of OS, and this article fails in that except Whatsapp

Allyson Kazmucha says:

Not a single one of these apps are iOS only. That's the point. Most of these support messaging anywhere you have a data connection.

Sent from the iMore App

weldonhd3 says:

My pic is MessageMe http://messageme.com/ they have some really cool features for a messaging app. App is for iOS and Android. You could do an entire article on them alone. I like the pics that you made as well and I'm with you on "you can't list them all," but I think this one is def a DIAMOND in the rough! ! ! Thanks

maxaudet says:

Google Hangouts definitely needs to be added to this list !

Allyson Kazmucha says:

I had it on my list and completely overlooked it! I added it now. I was looking for apps on one phone and downloading for photos on another and it got lost in the switch. Sorry about that, it's on there now!

Digginit2 says:

Hangouts! Once complete (ie google voice/sms integration) will be my app of choice.

mistergsf says:

I like Voxer. Me and my family members use it for group messaging and for walkie-talkie function. We are avid SF Giants and Niners fans and when we are watching games on TV, we are constantly Voxing our cheers and comments to each other. We were pretty busy last night with the NBA finals and the Giants vs Padres both very close games. Spurs lost :-(, Giants won (yay!). The only thing I dislike about Voxer is its dated interface. It needs work.

Jay Mobile says:

Textnow, Textfree (you can make free calls with these over wifi), Voxer, all should be added

jessicave says:

You should have added the most well designed applications for communicating and sending media, Path and MessageMe. Whatsapp and KIK are not well done and they are so cluttered. My primary messaging apps between my friends is Snapchat and Message.me

Drew Eastman says:

+ 1 for LINE as well it's even available for Mac / PC

richard451 says:

You may want to change the intro; "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." since a good number of your apps don't support every platform.

gameson says:

That's exactly my comment earlier, but she didn't seem to catch it...

Derrick4Real says:

i just text. I have unlimited so it's not a problem.

JordanHomes says:

I am a bit surprised that Viber did not show on you list. I have a lot of friends in Australia that are all using Viber to talk & text with friends here in the US.

salukibrandon says:

Viber is the winner for me. It even has a desktop option that I can run when I'm at work so I don't have to hover over my phone. And it syncs real time so I can pick up the conversation right where I left it for lunch.

Crayolaboi says:

No one has yet to mention Pinger. I like to use it cause it also allows you to text from your computer. I've used it for phone calls when I have wifi but no cellular. It's also good for when you need to give someone a number but don't want them having your actual number.
Also like voxer as others have mentioned, have a voice convo that can be played back later is cool.

Byzantium says:

I'm really interested to see BBM on iPhone and Android. That looks like it has the best chance out of the new contenders.

Angelo_Campher says:

I'm also thinking that its going to be the one to rule them all.

Sent from the iMore App

ckalli says:

wechat is growing faster that ever.. should look into that.

abazigal says:

I feel the article fails to draw a distinction between chat apps that are available for tablets (like hangouts) and those restricted to phones (like whatsapp).

Basically why I still stick with iMessage.

Sent from the iMore App

Joe Dimon says:

My favorite is www.grouptime.com It is the only messaging apps that enables you sent truly personal messages with custom fonts and themes. Grouptime is also great for group messaging and sharing.

graysonip says:

I'm always interested in messaging apps that have password protection. I know some people password protect their phone, but I prefer to have password protection on the app as well. I've used Kakao, merely for that reason. If anyone knows of other IM apps with password protection, please share that info. Thanks!

DravenX says:

I thought the BBM thing was fake. Didn't Rim or BlackBerry (whatever they go by these day) announce that there are not plans to bring BBM to iPhone?

TheINTJ says:

Besides having a few nice features, I guess what it all boils down to for me is why is there even a need for cross platform messaging apps? I can see the need if you have friends in other countries OR if you yourself go out of the country. But other than that what's the benefit when most people have unlimited text messaging? Not only that, but since carriers are moving people over to everything plans in which minutes and text are unlimited, using these messaging apps is actually using the ONLY part of the plan which isn't unlimited.....data..unless you're on wifi of course.

Ianthetechman says:

I find Whatsapp to be the best cross platform messaging app of the lot.

adriankeith says:

Google Hangouts is an unbelievable steaming pile of crap and if anyone is recommending this, they haven't used it nearly as much as I have. The app is CONSTANTLY crashing, updates from the chat are slow to show up (I know this because I use the chrome extension as well), and the app just always feels so unresponsive. I get that Google was trying to release a new product and get rid of GTalk but this was a poor way to go about it. What's worse is how neglected it feels while their other products are constantly updating.

I don't have a jailbroken iPhone, I'm on iOS 6.1.3 and this isn't only with my phone or with Apple. The issues are apparent on Android phones as well. I had a group chat with 4-5 other users on Android and they all had various issues with crashing, stability, etc. It's unfortunate because it otherwise has a great interface, some great video features and integrated well with G+ to the point I actually started to try to use Google+ more actively. Now, here I am, after months of trying to deal with the app and all its quirks (I can't even send recorded video through this app??) and I've given up and gone back to WhatsApp. It's not perfect either but it never crashes and sending messages go through the first time I send it unless signal sucks where I'm at.

Unbelievable how bad Google Hangouts is.

Henrik Herskind says:

Up until now my choice has been MySMS, http://www.mysms.com/. A very simple app running various platforms (Android, iOS, WinPhone, Windows, Mac).
Having bought a iPhone5 I thought I'd have a look if another app would be the best for that. Thanks for the article!

Henrik Herskind says:

I take it back! MySMS is nogood for iOS for this reason:

"With the mysms Messenger for iPhone you’re able to send free mysms friends messages to other mysms users, no matter if your friend owns an iPhone, Android or Windows Phone. Due to restrictions of Apple it is not possible to send texts via your mobile carrier or messages via a connector like with our mysms Android phone app. This is the reason, why the app on iPhone only shows your mysms friends messages."

Princy1 says:

Messaging facilities for multiple platforms is a very facility for phoned user.As texting provision would be free of cost else if message sent to different platforms would be charge or no compatible option would be there.Expecting more number of multi platforms app in the future.This shows a good and http://www.contus.com/windows-application-development.php

MrGrevy says:

Did the authorette note which app she uses to send dirty pics of herself to her lovers?? That's really the main thing most of us are concerned with.

Renee Wang says:

I would like to recommend one more dating apps, with casual games. Chat, flirt, date and meet girls & guys nearby! Hey Gal - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.havefun.fun