WhatsApp Messenger, AOL, Discord, Telegram: instant messaging is no longer something used solely by teens in the early 2000s after school: today, it's an integral part of the business ecosystem. Messaging platforms are more popular now than ever before and can be used to send everything from business correspondence to GIFs of dancing cats around the world in seconds, expediting communication of all kinds into a near-instant experience.
AOL Instant Messenger is indeed dead, but dozens of alternatives have taken its place, and many have more of a business-forward perspective than the old-school sad song lyric away message. WhatsApp Messenger has long dominated the modern market, offering a platform-neutral way to keep in contact with just about anyone, on desktop or mobile, with a user base of over 1.5 billion. However, it's no longer the only player in town, particularly when it comes to making the most of business communication. These WhatsApp Messenger rivals provide alternative means of contact to keep you connected - no matter what you have to say and how you want to say it.
Alternatives to WhatsApp Messenger
Google's solution to messaging, file sharing, video chatting, and document organization, Google Hangouts has long been a fan fave for both business and pleasure.
In addition to a messaging and mail feature, Hangouts has other perks that can be beneficial in a business environment. Costs are low for a large amount of storage, share content without running into frustrating limits or coughing up a lot of cash. The incorporation of Google Drive adds additional upsides; teams can store documents, share documents that can be mutually edited, and even maintain basic spreadsheet and presentation models. While the features in Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides are rather rudimentary compared to the more robust features available in Microsoft Office, they are still adequate for many companies who don't need sophisticated formulas. Hangouts also allows for video conferences, creating a convenient way to communicate remotely with team members around the world.
Hangouts is available on desktop when logged into Google as well as via a mobile app for iPhone or Android. Those with Google accounts can also download the apps for Drive, Sheets, Docs, and Slides, creating a cohesive network that can be accessed from any device, anywhere, any time.
- A large trusted name - everyone knows Google
- Flexible pricing for businesses of all sizes
- Access across any device and integration with Gmail and Google Drive
- Calling capabilities as well as chat and sharing
- Unrefined interface with average user reviews
- Reliance on Google's interface – a challenge for customers that use Outlook or other host
Telegram gained notoriety – for better or for worse – for its extreme approach to privacy several years ago. There is no requirement to link a phone number or otherwise confirm identity to begin using Telegram – a red flag for some, but a benefit for others.
In spite of this, Telegram is still a popular option for businesses. Group sizes are allowed up to 200,000 users per group, meaning that entire organizations can connect seamlessly and securely on Telegram's cloud-based servers. Telegram lets users use replies, mentions, and hashtags to keep work groups organized and communication easy. For more creative types, Telegram also offers photo editing as well as a wealth of stickers, images, and even a GIF search function, so meme fans are in luck. Groups on Telegram can be public or private, giving businesses a way to ensure confidential information is protected as well as to operate focus groups or community forums with interested individuals. For those who want to keep content away from the boss' prying eyes, Telegram also offers Secret Chats, a Snapchat imitator that allows for the use of self-destructing messages, videos, and photos.
Telegram functions as an app on mobile devices as well as a desktop platform, providing ease of use at the office, at home, or even when traveling.
- A strong focus on privacy
- Mentions and hashtag options to keep users engaged in a conversation
- Cloud-based servers
- No voice or video message capabilities
- Unable to see who is online
- No way to send multiple files at a time
For those who need a safe, secure messaging platform that's convenient to use across all devices, Signal is a winner. It's a clean, easy alternative to other messaging platforms, keeping teams connected without any distractions or flashy features while still supporting basic resources like file sharing, messaging, and video conferencing. Crystal clear calls anywhere in the world are guaranteed, making it easy to side-step international calling costs.
Signal's encryption is also a benefit; any messages sent are kept completely secure and are unable to be read by users other than the specific recipient. The app's encryption is available via an open-source license, which means that experts in the cyber security field have had an opportunity to evaluate the true nature of Signal's protection – and vouch for it. Signal also allows users to set messages to delete after a certain period of time, making sure that private communication is kept completely confidential.
Signal is unique in that it is completely free. This doesn't mean free in the way that some apps do, with banner ads, popups, and other options to monetize the platform – it's actually free. Signal doesn't have the plethora of over-the-top options other platforms do, however – unfortunately, glitter emojis and GIFs aren't an option, so users will have to save their memes for SMS.
- Sophisticated encryption and private chat abilities
- Completely free platform
- Call and chat functionality
- No fun or modern chat options, like emojis or hashtag use
- An unsophisticated interface
Originally launched for gaming purposes, Discord is among the most popular chat programs worldwide. It's still used heavily for trash talk and video game strategy but its easy-to-use interface makes it popular in other markets, too.
Discord makes sharing easy, with a focus on audio, video, and text communication. The application is organized into what are known as channels and servers, which are effectively groups of users dedicated to a specific purpose. Disorder users can create public servers on any topic they'd like with the ability to add numerous channels for diverse discussion. Servers can be private or public, creating an avenue for focus groups or a way to keep private content private.
Usernames aren't limited to unique handles; instead, users are assigned a four-digit code that is added to the end of any chosen username so that multiple users can have the same handle if desired. In a workplace, this can guarantee a username that matches an email address or ID number for easy organization.
Discord is fast and flexible with compatibility across MacOS, Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, and web browsers so that users can stay connected at all times. Discord also offers a "freemium" solution, an ideal option for companies on a tight budget.
- Free options for companies on a budget
- Unlimited storage
- Ability to incorporate bots
- As a gaming-centered app, the focus is still on gaming, not business
- No self-hosting option
- A history of privacy violations
Want the best of everything? You want Shift. An option that combines multiple apps and platforms into one streamlined interface, there's no need to log in and out between accounts or endlessly search for information; it's all right there at your fingertips with Shift.
Shift is a productivity app as much as it is a messaging platform, creating one convenient way to check email across multiple accounts, access files from any source, and stay in constant communication, all in one place. Whether your team prefers Facebook Messenger, likes to stay connected to WhatsApp, or chooses to chat on Google Hangouts, you can access them all. Unlike most platforms that are specific to their own proprietary resources, Shift supports hundreds of apps, including Evernote, Trello, and Slack. With apps divided into categories like Accounting and Finance, Web Development, Legal and HR, and Marketing and Analytics, there truly is something for everyone.
Shift is the ultimate in organization, incorporating the tools you use already into something completely unique. It's far too easy to get caught in a vortex of a dozen email, chat, and note-taking apps, making it easy to lose important information in the shuffle. Instead of searching for files, toggling between email accounts, and keeping dozens of Explorer windows open, trying to stay organized, Shift makes it easy to do exactly what you were hired to do – work. With every single app at your fingertips – and a few you didn't know you needed – you can connect with anyone, any time, all while revolutionizing the way you do business.
- A user-friendly interface
- Ability to connect virtually any communication or workflow app for the ultimate in organization with hundreds of app options
- Unified search across all email accounts simultaneously
- Fast speeds with no lags in switching between apps
- Desktop only; Shift has no mobile options
- Higher pricing than the competition
Technology serves to make organization easier, providing plenty of ways to communicate more effectively than ever before. Instead of telegrams or USPS, contact can be made all over the world with a few easy clicks across any one of hundreds of apps that offer messaging, calling, and video chatting. With the right tools, your business can improve work efficiency and increase output, boosting organizational abilities – and results.
If you're not ready to commit to one platform over another, Shift makes things simple, combining the best of multiple options for one streamlined experience. Get started with Shift today for free.