Messenger apps are all kind of similar. On closer inspection, however, they are strikingly different. The most important differences at a glance.
Messenger apps are indispensable for many people. Which of them is the best also depends on individual factors. Is availability the priority or is communication secure? Are many functions important or a simple design? Many messenger services are similar in how they work, which is the right one for whom, users have to evaluate themselves based on their needs. These are the pros and cons of the most popular messengers.
The fact that Facebook's short message service is one of the most widespread is probably mainly due to the colossal number of Facebook users. Some of them have installed the associated app on their mobile devices and are using it. Google's Play Store currently has more than five billion downloads. In contrast to many other messenger services, you don't need a phone number, a Facebook account is enough. An e-mail address is required for this. If you don't have a Facebook account the other way around, you can register with a phone number and use Messenger.
Unlike Facebook, WhatsApp was launched in 2009 with a sole focus on sending messages. The company wanted to enable users to send unlimited messages free of charge. The fact that a telephone number is necessary for this is due to the fact that WhatsApp saw itself as an alternative to classic SMS. Because many people jumped on the bandwagon in a short time, Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014. Today, WhatsApp is the ultimate messenger app for many. So far, more than five billion downloads have come together worldwide here in the Play Store.
Because of data protection, WhatsApp had to struggle with user dwindling in the past, data protectionists warned that the company shared its data with the parent company Meta. However, the company always rejected these allegations, saying that end-to-end encryption should not be weakened. Among other things, WhatsApp defended itself against the Indian government's attempt to abandon the principle of end-to-end encryption in favor of law enforcement.
One of the big winners from Meta's lax privacy policies is Signal. The messenger app has been developed under the name TextSecure since 2010, followed by the launch of Signal in 2014. In the opening speech, whistleblower Edward Snowden (38) promoted the use of the app, saying it was easy to use and safe. Since February 2020, Signal has been the messenger service that the European Commission recommends for itself and its employees to communicate securely. When entrepreneur Elon Musk (50) tweeted in January 2021: "Use signal", the rush was so great that the SMS verification process was temporarily overloaded on the same day.
Because Telegram allows groups with up to 200,000 members, the app has become a popular Facebook alternative in recent years. Similar to the follow button of the social network, users can join public groups with a simple click. In recent years, this low hurdle has attracted many people who feel bullied by platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. As a result, the news service has increasingly fallen into disrepute, and there have even been calls for the app to be banned in recent months because the lateral thinker and neo-Nazi scene is increasingly organizing itself via Telegram.
The Swiss messenger app Threema is the only paid one among those listed. The application costs a one-time fee of 3.99 euros in both the App and Play stores. In return, users get a messenger that has nothing to complain about in terms of data protection and security: end-to-end encryption ensures secure communication, tracking services are not used. Threema can also be used fully if you don't want to give the app your phone number or give access to the phone book. Instead, users receive their personal Threema ID after installation. Here Threema is a step ahead of Signal itself.