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18 best chat apps to know [2024]

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Using the best chat apps for work and personal life

According to Statista, 3.5 billion people will use chat or messaging apps by 2025. So, what is a chat app? A chat app is a mobile or web application that enables its users to send and receive messages.

Depending on the app, messages don’t need to be text-based. Some of the best chat apps facilitate robust conversations that include links, images, GIFs, videos, audio, attachments, reactions, receipts, and more. Chat apps can host one-to-one conversations, one-to-many communications, and private and public group chats.

On the back end, chatting apps can include a variety of features for administrators, such as a moderation panel, automated moderation helpers like profanity and domain filters, blocking and banning, spam protection, and even analytics and reporting functionality.

As you can see, there’s more going on behind the scenes with chat apps than you might have originally thought. The best chat apps also include a host of business benefits and tools for quickly building your own chat messaging solution.

Why should businesses consider building chat apps? Top features of the best chat apps

Now, let’s cover why it’s critical that tech and business decision-makers know about — and consider adopting — the best chat apps. After all, chat apps for work play a major role in facilitating communication and collaboration.

Take advantage of growing conversation-based commerce

We have seen firsthand how conversation-based interactions are shaping the future of the commerce space.

From concierge-assisted digital commerce experiences at high-end boutiques to AI-assisted chatbots guiding users through app onboarding and upsells to the real-time back-and-forth chats that power the massive online marketplace space, conversation is foundational to the success of many modern applications.

An image depicting feature-rich chat for ecommerce
Feature-rich chat for ecommerce

Reach more of today’s consumers

Chat and messaging apps are the most used websites/apps among global internet users. In fact, today, more than 3 billion people use messaging apps. Some of the most popular chat platforms, which we’ll talk about in detail shortly, boast billions of active users by themselves.

In addition, many countries outside of the U.S. don’t have unlimited texting, and in some places people rely on WiFi to use messaging apps instead of paying for texting at all. That makes these people nearly impossible to reach over text — making chat apps the clear winner depending on your target audience. In the case of in-app chat vs. SMS, in-app chat is clearly the winner.

It’s safe to say that some percentage of your target audience actively uses one or more chat apps, and has developed expectations around the experience they provide.

On that note, here are examples of the ways a chat app can modernize and improve the user experience your business is able to provide.

Convert users and retain customers with scalable personalization

From a business perspective, another downside of using SMS for brand communication is that people must actually leave your app to engage with your SMS messages; this is clearly counterintuitive for engagement.

On the other hand, in-app messaging is an avenue for ongoing conversation, which builds relationships between you and your users. These relationships can be personalized over time as you collect consumer data and have more opportunities to share your best features. This level of scalable, yet still personalized, engagement is what makes an app “sticky.” The stickier your app, the more likely free users are to become paying customers whom you can retain, who suggest you to their friends, and who upgrade their plan as their needs grow.

Provide fast, impactful customer support

The majority of consumers (70%) believe in-app chat would improve the customer support experience for them.

We think they’re right! By incorporating support directly into your chat interface, you have the opportunity to deliver a data-based, personalized, yet scalable support experience that lives fully within your app.

An organized chat support platform will:

  • Save agents’ time on getting up to speed when added to support conversations through AI-powered features like conversation summarization

  • Prevent valuable users from falling through the cracks and becoming frustrated or leaving entirely

  • Provide another channel for fostering the all-important engagement that apps need to thrive

  • Keep every important conversation flawlessly organized

An image depicting feature-rich customer support chat
Customer support chat

6 best chat apps of 2024 [Overall]

Whether you’re on a mission to upgrade your customer service, enable sales to have more productive digital conversations, boost app retention metrics, or greatly expand your customer base — incorporating chat into your operations is a powerful tool to reach your goals.

In this first segment of our messaging chat apps list for 2024, we’re going to cover the most popular options, which are mostly apps to chat with friends and make connections, to give you some examples of the kinds of functionality your users may desire.

1. WhatsApp

A screenshot of WhatsApp
Adapted from source.

WhatsApp, owned by Meta (FKA Facebook), is a multi-platform messaging app that is used the world over for voice calling, video calling, and messaging both in groups and privately.

WhatsApp is incredibly popular around the world, with India being its largest market. A few billion users engage with the platform to send around 100 billion messages every day.

What can businesses learn from this popular app?

WhatsApp has more recently developed WhatsApp Business, which helps brands capitalize on the massive reach of the parent platform. This works because they took all the same rich messaging features and easy-on-the-eyes user experience from WhatsApp and gave it to businesses, along with upgrades like templates, automated messaging, virtual storefronts, and even paid awareness channels (Click to WhatsApp).

By keeping the flow and UI much the same between personal and business conversations, WhatsApp is a great example of how to make customer support, and even sales conversations, feel as natural as asking a friend for advice.

What are the downsides of this app?

  • Privacy concerns: Despite end-to-end encryption, WhatsApp's data-sharing practices with its parent company, Meta, have raised valid privacy concerns.

  • Limited features on the business side: Compared to other apps designed specifically to facilitate business communication, WhatsApp's business features are relatively limited.

  • Unwanted messages: If you’ve used WhatsApp, you’ve probably gotten many unsolicited messages. The platform doesn’t make it a priority to protect users from messages from strangers.

2. WeChat

A screenshot of WeChat
Adapted from source.

WeChat is also in the billions club, with just over a billion users at the end of 2023. In 2024, WeChat is expected to have 1.4 billion users. Almost 82% of social media users in its top market, which is China, use the platform monthly.

Despite its name, WeChat can actually be used to do a ton of things beyond chat — we like how this article describes it as “a mix of WhatsApp, Google, Facebook, and Apple Pay.” On the chat front, it includes features like text-based messaging, video and voice calling, “broadcast” style messaging (think streaming), video conferencing, and more.

What can businesses learn from this popular app?

There are a lot of special features when it comes to WeChat. However, one of our favorites is its millions of “mini-programs,” which are like lightweight apps that live inside the platform. These programs greatly expand the functionality of WeChat and enable its users to shop, learn, watch movies, read the news, and much, much more.

To us, this exemplifies how much users are willing to engage with an app when the brand behind it is smart enough to provide elements they find compelling. What kind of content, marketing, or community can you build into your business app for a similar level of engagement?

What are the downsides of this app?

  • Privacy: User data may or may not be private on WeChat.

  • Limited global use: Some features of WeChat, such as payment services, are so focused on users in China that they’re not fully functional internationally.

  • User complexity: If you’re used to the minimal app design that has been trending for years, WeChat’s interface and features can be complex to navigate.

3. Facebook Messenger

A screenshot of Facebook Groups
Adapted from source.

Facebook Messenger is a messaging app, spun off of Facebook, that allows users to send text-based messages, make voice and video calls, share photos and files, and engage in group chats. The app functions on mobile just as well as it does on tablets and desktop computers.

Messenger only facilitates communication between Facebook members, which isn’t a problem as far as engagement, considering there are over a billion users on Messenger alone. Around the world, Facebook is one of the most used chat apps. Only WhatsApp ranks above it.

What can businesses learn from this popular app?

An interesting point about Facebook Messenger is how well it exemplifies the concept of keeping users in-app. Is there already a large user base, a community, or an area of your app with a lot of traffic? Can you find a way to incorporate chat functionality the way Facebook did to give them even more of a reason to engage with and invite users to your app?

What are the downsides of this app?

  • Privacy issues: As part of the Facebook ecosystem, Messenger has faced scrutiny over how private user data really is.

  • Resource-heavy application: The Messenger app has been known to consume significant battery life and storage.

  • Confusing integration: Remember when all your messages used to live inside the Facebook app? The splitting off of Messenger from the Facebook app is still confusing for a lot of long-time users, and at this point, it’s possible that people don’t want another app to manage.

4. Telegram

A screenshot of Telegram
Adapted from source.

Among messaging apps, Telegram is one of the fastest-growing chat apps for friends and family, closing out 2023 with 800 million users.

Telegram takes pride in being simple, private, powerful, and uniquely open to developers. That means developers can use their open API to add Telegram functions — chat, automated bots, and payments — to their digital interface. Thanks to this ease of integration, it’s slowly becoming an attractive communication channel for brands.

Telegram allows for lots of variety when it comes to apps used for chatting: groups with large member capacities, broadcast channels, and secret chats.

What can businesses learn from this popular app?

Telegram exemplifies how fast, featured, creative, and secure a chat app can be when you come at it from a technical mindset. We hope businesses who want to incorporate chat keep this approach in mind and, if they have the resources, either work with a technical lead or purchase a customizable high-tech solution when considering chat.

What are the downsides of this app?

  • Security oversight: Despite offering end-to-end encryption, it's not enabled by default in regular Telegram chats! That seems like a big miss for an app that boasts security and privacy.

  • Data collection: Telegram collects data on the contacts on your phone. All users may not be okay with this.

  • Lacking support: Telegram’s user support team is volunteer-based, meaning if they’re busy or stumped on your issue, you’re out of luck.

5. QQ

A screenshot of QQ
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QQ, or Tencent QQ, is instant messaging software developed by Tencent that’s widely used across China. In 2023, it had close to 600 million active users. The interesting thing is that QQ is desktop native and is considered the predecessor of another Tencent holding — the mobile native and now more popular WeChat.

QQ’s core features outside of messaging include video and voice calls, file sharing, social networking, and thriving groups similar to chat boards that center around special interests.

What can businesses learn from this popular app?

QQ is an interesting example of both what to do and what not to do. Its ability to keep up with changing times since its founding in 1999 has earned it a loyal user base. At the same time, its inability to make the move to a mobile focus has caused it to slowly be overshadowed by more modern options. Both of these facts should help businesses take a balanced and thoughtful approach to chat functionality.

What are the downsides of this app?

  • History of security issues: In the past, the mobile browser version of QQ was found to have various security issues that made users’ personally identifiable data accessible.

  • Ads: The app features a significant number of ads.

  • Privacy and censorship: Like WeChat, QQ has to comply with government regulations, meaning surveillance and censorship could possibly be part of the equation.

6. Viber

A screenshot of Viber
Adapted from source.

Most popular in Europe — it’s a top ten social app in Sweden and Belgium — Viber has over a billion users.

Among the top-ranking options, Viber is one of the best free chat apps for user-to-user messaging and voice and video calls. This is thanks to their Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) tech, which uses the internet for calls instead of phone lines. The app features one-to-one and group chats and calls, public groups, and rich reactions with stickers and GIFs.

What can businesses learn from this popular app?

An interesting thing that Viber does is allow users to sync their Viber accounts across multiple devices at once, similar to how iMessage works between iPhone, Mac, and Apple Watch.

This feature allows users to continue chat conversations and transfer calls between their cell phone and desktop as long as they’re connected to the internet. If you have a user base that’s especially prone to moving around or just uses all their devices regularly over the course of the day, this may be a good way for your business to also approach chat.

What are the downsides of this app?

  • Inconsistent call quality: Some reviews note varying degrees of call quality, which can be inconsistent based on location and network conditions.

  • Heavy resource usage: Similar to Messenger, Viber consumes a substantial amount of device battery and storage.

  • Data privacy concerns: Viber is owned by Rakuten, a massive ecommerce business that very likely shares user data with third parties so they can create even harder-to-resist ads to serve back to you.

6 best chat apps for work communication

Chat apps for businesses that focus on connecting teams and individuals are critical to collaboration in the age of remote workers and asynchronous communication. But even if most of your company is in the same building every day, the reliance on workplace communication applications is growing.

Slack’s annual user numbers have grown from 2 million in 2015 to 35 million in 2022. Similarly, Microsoft Teams had just 2 million users in 2017, and in 2023 counted a whopping 320 million. It’s no surprise that 80% of remote workers use messaging apps to communicate.

Why might you need a business communication app?

Here’s how workplace chat applications have revolutionized the way modern teams function:

  1. Innovation excellence: Sometimes, a simple idea is the spark behind a company-changing innovation. Business chat apps make sharing that simple idea with the right team at the right time possible, accelerating innovation.

  2. Increase business efficiency: Workplace messaging apps are critical to the fast flow of information within businesses today. A modern solution will certainly speed up how information and resources flow through your company.

  3. Knocking down data silos: Important business data that’s locked up inside certain departments hinders decision-making and collaboration and can lead to expensive double work and inaccurate analytics. Chat apps can prevent and even solve these silos by making data sharing between departments infinitely easier.

  4. Organized conversations: Modern chat messaging features like channels, direct messages, and threads keep work conversations organized, easy to digest, and professional. Using channels for specific projects, departments, or topics makes it less overwhelming for workers to keep up with important discussions.

  5. Better record keeping: Chat apps maintain a record of conversations, which can be invaluable for understanding the context around past decisions, determining to-dos from important discussions, and onboarding new team members. The search functionality that many apps have makes it easy to find these conversations, as well as files and channels, when you need them most.

Ready to skate past your competitors thanks to the above benefits of work communication apps? The following tools will help you get started.

1. Slack

A screenshot of Slack
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Adopted by companies and other communities globally, Slack is an incredibly popular business communication tool with 20 million active users.

What makes it so liked? When it came out, Slack revolutionized the way workgroups functioned by providing a fast, modern, and independent chat platform that simply made working easier.

Aside from real-time messaging, Slack offers file sharing, calls, rich media support, search, channels for organizing teams and conversations, and a handy feature for inviting outside parties (such as clients your company works with) into channels with limited permissions.

Who is this work chat app best for?

Slack has become a powerful, productivity-boosting chat platform for businesses of all sizes in all industries. However, we could see all its features and spaces feeling overwhelming for workers who don’t need all of that. We’d recommend Slack to teams that are tech-savvy and very reliant on asynchronous messaging.

2. Element

A screenshot of Element
Adapted from source.

Let’s get more specialized: Element is a team chat application that can be self-hosted.

That means Element offers an open-source option that companies can deploy on their own server. They also have highly secure hosting through their service.

Other than that, Element is decently similar to other work-focused chat apps. Conversations are organized into channels, and the app supports text as well as video and audio chat, polling, and search. In the open-source space, it’s considered exceptionally streamlined and modern.

Who is this work chat app best for?

Since all data shared on Element is highly secure and compliant with the strictest privacy protocols, the app is a great fit for businesses in privacy-focused sectors, such as healthcare, government, and similar.

3. Google Chat

A screenshot of Google Chat
Adapted from source.

Google Workspace, formerly G Suite, includes Google Chat — an internal business communication app for companies that are already plugged into the Google-sphere.

Google Chat is a secure communication tool that can support up to 500K members. It empowers collaboration via rich text, reactions, photo sharing, announcements, shared chat rooms, documents, presentations, and even web conferences.

Who is this work chat app best for?

The biggest benefit is that Chat works seamlessly with all the rest of Google’s tools like Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Groups, and beyond. If your team is already deep into the platform and searching for a chat solution, it may be just the software for you.

4. Nextiva

A screenshot of Nextiva
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Nextiva is a business productivity-focused platform that serves as a holistic communication hub for companies.

As for team collaboration specifically, Nextiva includes chat messaging, a VoIP service, SMS capabilities, file and attachment sending, video meetings, and integration with calendars and email. All shared data is synchronized and searchable, so team members can quickly find the information they need.

Who is this work chat app best for?

Nextiva goes beyond chat with calling and texting. So if you need help managing conversations everywhere across your business — internally as well as externally with clients and customers — Nextiva provides an all-in-one solution.

5. Workplace

A screenshot of Workplace
Adapted from source.

Workplace, an app from Meta, offers something much like a social media experience but in a business setting.

Aside from the top-quality chat features you would expect from the makers of Facebook Messenger, it also incorporates personal profiles, company news feeds, groups, friends lists, a company intranet, and more. The same machine learning that Facebook uses is also applied to the Workplace platform.

Who is this work chat app best for?

Workplace and Facebook are distinct tools. Your Workplace account is separate from your Facebook profile and requires a work email address and an invitation to join. That said, they share similarities in look and functionality.

For teams that are already heavy Facebook users, this platform may be a natural fit for your workplace chat.

6. Chanty

A screenshot of Chanty
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Chanty is a chat and collaboration tool for offices. Features include rich chat, 4K voice and video calls, a robust task management portal, user dashboards where they can store and organize all interactions, and helpful administration features.

Who is this work chat app best for?

With a unique focus on usability and smooth onboarding of new users, Chanty is a great place to start for companies that are ready to upgrade to productivity platforms without losing chat functionality.

6 best communication apps for building community

A community app is a tool for enabling users to participate in interactive, virtual groups with which they feel a connection. Communities can form around interests such as gaming and cooking. They can also be formed by users of a certain tool to share tips on upgrading its effectiveness.

An effective community app empowers hosts to create, administrate, and moderate impactful community experiences. It provides users with the capability to actively engage in discussions by sharing as well as interacting with posts.

Why should businesses care about community-building apps?

Social+ apps build a social interaction layer into their functionality as a way to create active communities. Why focus on communities?

  1. Deepen brand loyalty: A strong community fosters a sense of belonging among customers. When customers feel connected to a community, they are more likely to develop loyalty to the brand behind it. Loyalty is more important in a tough economy in which more consumers are tempted to shop around.

  2. Grow retention: Well over half (66%) of companies say building community has boosted their customer retention scores.

  3. Word-of-mouth marketing: A passionate community can be a powerful marketing asset. Satisfied community members are more likely to recommend your business and app, generating positive word-of-mouth marketing — one of the most trusted and affordable channels there is.

  4. Differentiation: In markets in which competition is intense, having a strong customer community can be a significant differentiator. It shows that your business values its customers beyond just transactions.

  5. A unique feedback channel: Communities provide businesses with direct access to customer feedback and insights. By engaging with their community, businesses can gather truthful feedback about their products or services and identify customer needs and preferences. This unique approach makes for highly affordable research and development.

Work toward these business benefits with the following best chatting apps for community building.

1. Discord

A screenshot of Discord
Adapted from source.

Discord has become an excellent means to foster communication and build community around just about anything.

Businesses can set up a Discord server that’s either private or open to join and can make key users feel extra special by sending out exclusive invites to important customers.

Within Discord, you can set up channels around product announcements, customer support, general chatter, and so on. Members can also direct message each other.

Discord still has an air of newness and exclusivity around it, meaning it might be the best group chat app if that’s the style of community your target audience is looking for.

2. Reddit

A screenshot of Reddit
Adapted from source.

Reddit may not be what you immediately think of as a chat application, but it does allow for the creation of niche channels (AKA subreddits) that host chatroom-style communication. More recently, it added an actual one-to-one chat feature.

As Reddit has gained popularity — today it has 430 million monthly active users across 100,000 communities — businesses have begun to recognize the platform’s value in building engaged communities that enhance awareness, traffic, and sales.

Companies can create public or private subreddits around their business, specific product features, or concepts associated with the brand. For example, you may create a subreddit about how to sell your wares in a marketplace if that’s your app’s core functionality.

Create a successful Reddit community by asking questions, gathering feedback on ideas, sharing updates about your business, and providing exclusive offers.

3. Facebook Groups

A screenshot of Facebook Groups
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Facebook Groups provide business Facebook Page owners with a more personalized place to build a connected community of existing and potential customers.

Similar to Reddit, Groups can be public or private and consist of a feed of posts, threads of replies, and private messaging among members. The benefit of hosting a community on Facebook is that a large percentage of the world is already on Facebook — and already familiar with the ins and outs of how it works. You can also run ads through the Facebook ecosystem to drive more traffic to your Group.

If your audience is already on Facebook, meet them where they are to build a community where it's easy for members to get and stay engaged.

4. Mighty Networks

A screenshot of Mighty Networks
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Mighty Networks is software for creating community outside of the existing social media platforms. It centers around building like-minded groups that share knowledge and engage via an activity feed, chat, events, hashtag-based filters, courses, challenges, polls, and other features.

One of the ways Mighty Networks encourages community building is by charging for high-value resources. Associating a fee with courses and programs can actually make them seem more valuable and desirable to community members.

The draw of joining a Mighty Networks group from a customer perspective is gaining insider knowledge they can’t find anywhere else. If your business features thought leaders in your industry and you know your customers and leads want to learn from them, check this platform out.

5. Tribe Social

A screenshot of Tribe Social
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Tribe Social’s positioning is as a “no-distraction” app builder for hosting a community.

Tribe Social offers businesses the capability to consolidate community communication on a single, branded app. With it, you can spin up your white-label platform, start adding your content, and push it out to current and future customers.

Apps built on Tribe Social offer video, real-time chat, notifications, and moderation capabilities for managing members to keep the space safe for everyone.

6. Bettermode

A screenshot of Bettermode
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Bettermode offers all-in-one community management that features private messaging, reactions, comments, activity feeds, an easily-edited and searchable knowledge base, badges, and leaderboards for community members.

On the admin side, the platform prides itself on being simple to moderate, customize, and integrate with other business tools, from marketing to analytics to customer support.

By consolidating many elements of community within a single platform, Bettermode gives businesses time to focus on community building and the tasks that lead to member engagement, organic traffic, and retention.

Why your business should buy and then build its own chat app

The above list gives you plenty of options when it comes to selecting tooling to help you integrate chat into your app.

Yet, you might not be able to find the tool with the perfect feature set you’re looking for.

You may not see anything that offers the deep customizations you would like to have access to when creating a chat experience.

You might be missing an option that offers the flexibility you need to scale up and down with unpredictable traffic.

Or, maybe you have been able to find what you’re looking for — but not at a price you’re able to make work.

That’s why we like the “buy then build” approach.

With this direction, you’re able to easily adopt underlying chat tech with all the modern features you need, and let the vendor worry about all the development time, risk, scalability, maintenance, uptime, and time-consuming edge cases.

Sendbird, an easy-to-integrate in-app communications platform, is a tool perfect for this use case.

Customers can quickly get our chat communications API up and running in their app thanks to our helpful chat SDK, ready-to-ship UIKit, robust support, and detailed documentation. With that base in place, you’re free to quickly build your desired chat app experience.

Sendbird’s infrastructure makes it so that your app is infinitely scalable. That means you don’t need to worry when a successful marketing campaign drives a massive traffic spike!

Sendbird also takes care of all the management, data security, and privacy compliance concerns that come with running a highly functional chat app. You get to focus on crafting and managing your new experience while taking advantage of built-in moderation tools and automation features that keep everyone safe and engaged.

Furthermore, all the rich customer data that makes personalization possible stays on your platform instead of being accessed by big players like WhatsApp, Facebook, and so on.

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Start building your own chat app with Sendbird

Across industries, from finance to retail and beyond, and most business units — customer support, marketing, sales, and more — the instantaneous nature of chat reigns supreme for consumers.

Sendbird provides the chat messaging platform you need to create the modern encounters consumers are looking for, all while creating a less fragmented data and customer management experience for your own team.

Interested in just how fast you can go to market and start boosting revenue with a chat addition to your business app? Request a demo or dive right in — sign up to try Sendbird for free.

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