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Keeping in touch with friends and family has never been easier. If you have an internet connection, you can send a message to anyone, anywhere, free of charge. With endless free texting apps for Android and iPhone, you need to determine your priorities to figure out which one to choose. Some services are deed purely with security and user privacy in mind, while others emphasize broader communication in the form of audio and video calling.

Some messaging apps closely resemble social networks, while others provide a platform on which to do things like play games and settle tabs. Here we'll present our picks for the seven best texting apps—all of which are free—and help you determine which one's right for you.

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In our quest to find the best way to stay in touch, we've put almost 30 different apps and services to the test. The most basic requirement is that all apps are able to send text and multimedia messages in the form of photos and videos to an individual or group conversation.

The messages must also be free to send. Texting apps use an internet connection to send and receive messages. This is different from SMS, which uses your carrier's own protocols to send and receive messages anywhere with a cellular connection even a weak one, with no data. While SMS messages cost money—either on a per-message basis or included with your cellular plan—the messages sent through data-only texting apps will all be free even if the app itself is not.

For this roundup, we've only considered services have both iOS and Android apps so you can connect with anyone on any device. Desktop apps and web access is a nice-to-have, but not a requirement for inclusion.

The 7 best texting apps

Other nice features include voice and video calling, filters, mobile payments, games, and other interactive experiences. We've given priority to services with excellent security practices. All services on this list implement some form of end-to-end encryption, which means not even the service provider can read message contents. Some services go a step further by putting security at the center of the product, incorporating additional safeguards like decentralized networks and self-destructing messages.

WhatsApp for a balance among features, security, and convenience.

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Viber for public group chats. Telegram for speed. al for simplicity. Wickr Me for security. Facebook Messenger for doing more than just chatting. Tox for a decentralized chat service. Best texting app for a balance among features, security, and convenience. WhatsApp is the undisputed ruler of free mobile messaging in the West. Launched in as a way to send messages over a data connection rather than SMS, WhatsApp was eventually acquired by Facebook in Since then, the service has grown both its feature set and user base, exceeding a billion daily users in The app is a simple messaging client that supports basic text chat, as well as photos, videos, and voice messaging.

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You can also send files to other users on WhatsApp as long as they're under MB. Chats take the form of one-on-one interactions with other WhatsApp users or group chats of up to participants. In Aprilthe company rectified one of the longstanding criticisms of the service by adding end-to-end encryption.

All messages sent over modern versions of WhatsApp are now secured, including file transfers. Encrypted messages are removed from WhatsApp's servers once they're delivered. WhatsApp has a distinctive look and feel. Its ature double tick next to each message indicates that a message has been sent one checkmark and delivered two checkmarks.

15 group messaging mobile apps

When the two ticks turn blue, you know that the recipient has read your message too. You can further customize your experience by changing the chat wallpaper under the app's settings, renaming groups, and setting custom alerts on a per-chat basis.

WhatsApp users can place free voice and video calls to other users of the service. Group calls can be made with up to four people, and all communication is secured with the same end-to-end encryption.

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You can also download WhatsApp desktop apps for Windows and Mac, or access the service via a browser at web. WhatsApp Price: Free. Best texting app for public group chats. Viber is another great all-around entry to the messaging space, with large user bases in India, the U. The app fuses text and media messaging with a free voice and video call service that can even be extended to users who aren't currently using Viber. Talk to individuals or create a group chat with up to participants, where you can share instant voice and video messages without having to make a call.

It's perfect for when you're too busy to talk and too lazy to type. While many other apps include simple voice messaging like WhatsApp, aboveViber makes it just as easy to send a video message for a more personal touch.

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Plus, GIFs and stickers are built into your chats to help liven up conversations. End-to-end encryption is standard on all Viber communications.

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You can go a step further and exchange private keys with certain contacts to maintain security and you'll be notified if their details change too. To do this, you'll need to tap Free Viber Calltalk to the person in question, and verify their identity; then both parties will tap the lock icon on the call screen.

After that, you'll see each other's private keys and can choose to Trust this contact. In addition to free voice and video calling to other Viber users, a service called Viber Out lets you call any mobile or landline in the world. You'll have to pay for the privilege, and what fees you pay depend on where you're trying to call.

It's like Skype, except with better security practices. Viber uses an understated, minimal de with an optional Dark Mode available under the app's Appearance menu. Chats and calls are delegated to separate tabs, with Viber's non-essential features like the Sticker Market placed on a separate third tab. If a chat gets too rowdy, you can swipe left and choose to Mute or Snooze it. If you have an important conversation you'd like to keep handy, you can Pin it.

You don't even really need friends to make the most of Viber. Check out Viber communities—essentially large group chats with strangers—or start your own to meet new people. These public chats can have an unlimited of members and feature robust controls for admins to moderate their chats.

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These controls let you manage who's in the group and who can post, as well as changing the community's look and feel with a new background and group description. Viber Price : Free. The best texting app for speed. Telegram is one of the original secure messaging apps that puts security at the heart of the app.

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You can use it to send text messages, photos, videos, and files to other Telegram users, you can create group chats with a whoppingparticipants, and your conversations are stored in the cloud and accessible from any Telegram client. Telegram's "Secret Chats" encrypt messages on both ends: Just start a new message then choose New secret chat from the menu. You can also set self-destruct timers for any secret messages you send so that they won't hang around once they've served their purpose.

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Secret chats aren't stored in the cloud like regular chats. But even your regular chats in Telegram are encrypted, stored on the server, then decrypted when they're downloaded. This gives you the option of choosing between highly secure messaging and a more convenient, slightly less secure option. You can use both interchangeably, as you see fit.

By distributing their servers throughout the world, Telegram claims to be the fastest chat service—and it certainly passed our tests. Unlike many competing services, Telegram doesn't cater to voice or video calling. This is strictly a messaging app—one that looks and feels very similar to WhatsApp, right down to the busy decorative backgrounds that you can change under the Appearance menu. It's basically a WhatsApp clone in all but its security practices. Finally, Telegram has an open API, which means users are free to build their own unofficial apps for use with the service.

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This has given birth to projects like Unigram, a Windows optimized third-party client, and a command line version of Telegram for Linux users. Telegram Price: Free. Best texting app for simplicity. al is one of the most unremarkable-looking texting apps. It features a single screen for all of your chats and a single compose button.

There's little in the way of customization available. It's frequently recommended as a WhatsApp alternative: While chatting, you'll even notice WhatsApp-style double ticks to denote message status.

3. keep your messages short and thoughtful.

al also includes free one-on-one voice and video calling to other al users. These chats are encrypted just like other messages sent via the app. You can send text, photos, videos, documents, and voice messages to individual or group conversations, but unlike with WhatsApp, there's no limit on the of people you can add to a group.

The app uses end-to-end encryption to secure all messages sent via the service, with the option of setting expiration dates for each conversation.