The history of SMS
Over 30 years ago, SMS messages were introduced, which forever changed the way we communicate. With a 160-character limit, SMS inspired the use of new initialisms such as LOL and TTYL, which have now become part of the English language. While some have criticized the impact of texting on communication, it has become a permanent fixture in modern life. The only question is which texting app to use, and which phone is best suited for texting.
The best OTT messaging apps
The most popular form of texting around the world is through over-the-top services that operate on top of another service, in this case, the internet. Apps that offer OTT messaging became popular because they were free and weren’t tied to a data plan or carrier contract.
WhatsApp is the most popular OTT messaging app in the world, known for its reliable texting, voice and video calls that are ad-free. You can create groups for your friends, family, or Pokémon GO raid crew. It hasn’t taken off in the US as much as it has in other countries, but it has nearly 100 million users in the US, with cash transfers expected to be included soon.
Messenger is Facebook’s messaging app with a massive user base. It doesn’t require a phone number, so you don’t have to have a plan or phone to use it. It’s practically the same as WhatsApp and is the most popular messaging app in the US with almost 65% of the market.
Telegram is similar to WhatsApp or Messenger with text messaging, voice and video calling, image sharing, and groups. What sets it apart is that Telegram groups can hold up to 200,000 members and it has “channels” that function like a social network than a messaging app.
Although SMS messaging isn’t as popular globally, it is still one of the most common forms of texting in the US. SMS messaging apps come in two types: they either work with your existing phone plan or provide you with an additional phone number to text from with limitations.
Google Messages is the most downloaded SMS app with over a billion downloads. In addition to standard SMS and MMS message support, it also supports RCS messaging where cellular networks are bypassed with end-to-end encryption. It’s integrated into Google services for more convenience.
Chomp SMS, a messaging app since 2013, is the most customizable option with the ability to change the LED notification color, colors, fonts, and ringtones. You can schedule messages, add a signature to your texts, and lock them with a password.
Google Voice offers a new phone number with voicemail, unlimited texting, and free domestic calls to any US or Canadian number except for 800 numbers. International calls can cost as low as $0.01 per minute. On top of that, it offers end-to-end encryption that can be sent over Wi-Fi. Sadly, it’s only available in the US.
TextPlus offers free SMS texting over Wi-Fi within the US and Canada. You can choose your area code number or change it anytime for free. However, texting outside the US and Canada may incur charges starting at $0.02 per minute.
TextNow offers your own phone number with unlimited texting and calls within the US and Canada. It’s ad-supported, but you can improve the experience with paid subscriptions. You can also send text messages over Wi-Fi. If you want more freedom, you can sign up for a TextNow data plan for a physical SIM card that can be sent to you.
So what should I download?
The world of texting apps has steadily grown and become more vibrant. This list serves as a guide to help you choose your next messaging service. If you want to know whether someone has read your messages, we can help with that too.