Best messaging apps for iPhone: Hangouts, LINE, WhatsApp, and more!

iMore's guide to the best, most reliable, and most widely used messaging apps currently available on the iPhone!

Looking for the best iPhone apps to stay in contact with your friends and family? When it comes to messaging, the list of services to choose from is pretty much endless. Whether you need to send messages internationally or just don't care to give out your phone number or iMessage information to everyone you need to be able to communicate with, there's an appropriate option for everyone. But that still leaves one important question unanswered, what messaging apps for iPhone are the absolute best?

Facebook Messenger

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Best messaging apps for iPhone: Facebook Messenger

If you use Facebook and all your other friends do, Facebook Messenger is an easy and convenient way to converse with friends and family both over wifi and over the cellular network. Facebook Messenger is a separate app download outside of the regular Facebook app and focuses strictly on messaging. You can also place voice calls with Facebook Messenger that use data instead of minutes, another added bonus. Facebook Messenger supports native push notifications and ties seamlessly into the official Facebook for iPhone app.

If you and most of the people you message are already on Facebook, it may be the most logical choice and require the least amount of setup on your own part.


Best messaging apps for iPhone: WhatsApp

WhatsApp, which was recently acquired by Facebook, still remains one of the best alternative messaging options for iPhone. With support for regular messages, pictures, audio notes, video messages, and more, WhatsApp still remains a favorite option for many folks. It's available internationally in many countries and also supports group chats.

For a minimal messaging app that's easy to use and available in many different countries, check out WhatsApp.


Best messaging apps for iPhone: Skype

Skype is one of the most widely used messaging services not only on iOS, but on any platform. Not only can you send standard text only messages to contacts, you can initiate audio and video calls as well. Need to screen share? Not a problem. You can also import your entire address book to Skype if you'd like and buy Skype credits to use to contact non-Skype users. They're way cheaper than standard rates through your carrier.

For a messaging service that's available on pretty much every platform you can think of and also services far beyond standard messaging, you want Skype.

Google Hangouts

Best messaging apps for iPhone: Hangouts

Google Hangouts lets you link up your existing Google account and view all of your Gtalk and Google+ contacts all in one place. Start a hangout where you can message each other or use Google's video and audio calling feature. For anyone in the US and Canada, phone calls are completely free — minus the data you consume from your carrier of course. Hangouts also integrates well with other Google apps for iOS including Google+.

If you're tied into the Google ecosystem already, Hangouts has come a long way and is worth a hard look.


Best messaging apps for iPhone: LINE

LINE is a free messaging app that is available in a ridiculous amount of countries throughout the world. Aside from sending standard messages, LINE also supports video and audio calls. You can also take short films and send them to all your friends with LINE's Snap Movie feature. LINE also supports voice messages.

If not a lot of messaging options are available in your country, there's a very good chance that LINE is.

Your picks for best messaging apps for iPhone?

If you prefer third party messaging services over standard text messaging or iMessage, what service do you and your friends use? Be sure to let me know in the comments!

iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.

  • GroupMe has a nice feature set is my choice for group messaging. Allows pics, videos, emojis and UI is fantastic.
  • this is sooo subjective article, the write ignores all other apps that she doesn't have in her iPhone. The writer forgot to mention
    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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
  • My pic is MessageMe 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
  • Google Hangouts definitely needs to be added to this list !
  • 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!
  • LINE!
  • Hangouts! Once complete (ie google voice/sms integration) will be my app of choice.
  • 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.
  • Textnow, Textfree (you can make free calls with these over wifi), Voxer, all should be added
  • 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
  • +1 for LINE
  • + 1 for LINE as well it's even available for Mac / PC
  • 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.
  • That's exactly my comment earlier, but she didn't seem to catch it...
  • i just text. I have unlimited so it's not a problem.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • I'm really interested to see BBM on iPhone and Android. That looks like it has the best chance out of the new contenders.
  • I'm also thinking that its going to be the one to rule them all. Sent from the iMore App
  • wechat is growing faster that ever.. should look into that.
  • Carrier pigeons
  • 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
  • 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!
  • 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?
  • 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 you're on wifi of course.
  • Most people in the US maybe. The rest of the world does not have that luxury.
  • I find Whatsapp to be the best cross platform messaging app of the lot.
  • 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.
  • Up until now my choice has been MySMS, 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!
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • BBM takes it for me and my family. Once its out for WP, friends will be on it as well
  • Wechat (weixin). Because China. It has a nice translate feature built in, and a social-networking element that is both private and extremely popular. Also, great for Bosses who like to use voice messages to scream at groups of employees. It's an amusing trend. Telegram is good, especially if you worry about the future of Whatsapp. Threema is good if you are Edward Snowden. Sent from the iMore App
  • WeChat is a GREAT IPhone app. You can find new people to chat with, you can message, video chat, walkie talkie, free calls, voice message, send pictures, send animated emoji stickers, and more. This is THE BEST messaging app I have EVER had, and I have been looking for one this good for a very long time.
  • BBM wasn't included in this list
  • anyone notice the weird dates for the comments?? oh and BBM should have most def been on this list
  • No..Not weird... these are part of iMore's 'recycled' articles from previously published ones. May be with minor changes. Hence old comments are still present. Sent from the iMore App
  • This. I update them at regular intervals so they are always current. Sent from the iMore App
  • Ooohh gotcha
  • Hi Allyson I have a question about I phone texting that is off this topic can you help me?
  • Surprised to see "Telegram" not included.
    Not only is Telegram open source.. it's fast, has a robust privacy policy, security is strong, and they also work on iPad. And its cross-platform - both in iOS and Android and has a unofficial Windows phone app. Besides its feature list is ever growing.
    What more do you need from a messenger app? Sent from the iMore App
  • Two thumbs up for Telegram. Highly underrated, fast and secure messaging app.
  • Def BBM is the way to go Posted via the Android iMore App!
  • I love iMessage because it's not rough, about everyone has it and I don't need to tell everyone to get a messaging app. I love iMessage and it's going to be better in iOS 8 OS X 10.10 Yosemite! Sent from the iMore App
  • I think the apps will be a breakthrough . Many potential features can be unleashed. Sent from the iMore App
  • LINE is good , second is whatsUp Sent from the iMore App
  • for free messaging they are the best! I am looking for cheap SMS for cases that my contacts do not have internet access... do you know any app that can send cheap sms international????? I found hola sms that does that but there is not app for ios :( anything similar????
  • Whatsapp the most fascinating instant messaging app. Report states that there are nearly 450 million active monthly users for whatsapp. LINE with 350 million active users and its Japanese proprietary application.
    Today we can get cloned whatsapp like nectar chat app
  • You guys misses the best one indeed! Telegram!
    It's really the best, lightest, fastest and most secure messenger ever! Just test it please, and have a comparison with others. Like Google Hangouts and...