Five Alternatives to WhatsApp, for Those Who Hate That It’s Owned by Facebook Now
On Wednesday, Facebook announced that it was buying the international messaging service WhatsApp in a mind-boggling $19 billion deal. Though WhatsApp may not necessarily be on your radar, its stats are solid: The Internet messaging application is home to more than 450 million users (many of whom are outside the United States). WhatsApp costs nothing to download and, after a gratis first year, $1 per year to use for unlimited messaging to anyone else with the app. Even more rare: It’s ad-free.
Though Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg promises that WhatsApp will continue to operate independently, and that the “product will remain unchanged,” you still might be afraid that Facebook could somehow ruin an otherwise wonderful service. Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram came with annoying twee advertisements in your feed, you might remember.
We’ll know in due time. But, while we wait, here are a few mostly free WhatsApp alternatives that aren’t owned by Facebook:
This app is great for keeping in touch with your many social circles. It’s like a private mobile chatroom that works on a wide range of devices, free of charge. It even allows those with SMS to join the conversation. So if someone in the group doesn’t have a 3G connection, she can still receive group messages for a small fee. It has a very extensive catalog of emoji and a tool that allows you to charge your friends money for something (if, say, they bought you a drink at a concert). It’s particularly helpful if you find yourself at a mixer or a convention and want to share the experience with other people there — or, you know, just gossip about other people with your close inner circle. Mostly, my friends and I just use it to send each other emoji stories.
Kik also allows you to cultivate your own mobile friend group chats, for free, on pretty much every device out there. What sets it apart, however, is an interface that allows you to easily browse the web and share links, photos, videos and games with your friends. It also has its own robust app store, for sharing applications within Kik itself.