Five apps as good as or better than iMessage in iOS 8

iMessage in iOS 8 adds new features, but it's mainly catching up to existing apps. Here's five apps you can use right now and get the same features.

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Apple, Inc.

There's no question Apple added some meaningful features to iOS 8, and in particular, iMessage. The ability to share locations, edit group threads, send voice notes and photos, or even mute a conversation are all welcome additions. But let's be honest: most of these features already exist in third-party messaging clients. I can't fault Apple for adding the features, as it only benefits its ecosystem and dedicated iOS users. With that in mind, here's five apps you can get right now with features you'll find in iOS 8's iMessage app.

BBM

The common reaction when I mention using BBM to someone is laughter. But if you've actually tried BBM on iOS or Android recently, you'd see it's no laughing matter. BBM is a competent messaging app, full of features that round it out as one the best for cross-platform messaging.

BBM offers location sharing, voice calls (over a data connection), voice notes, photo- and video-sharing, and Dropbox file sharing. You can even allow people to monitor your location using the built-in Glance integration.

A downside to BBM is that you're able to remain logged into only one device at a time. Meaning if you start a conversation on your iPhone, and want to finish it on your iPad, you'll have to log into BBM on your iPad (logging you out of BBM on your iPhone). You'll then have to figure out where you left off in the conversation due to conversation history not being synced.

Download BBM from the App Store.

WhatsApp

There's no question WhatsApp is a popular app. With over 450 million users, WhatsApp is the king of the messaging space. If you don't believe me, just ask Facebook.

Naturally, after seeing some of the same features WhatsApp offers turn up in iMessage for iOS 8, the CEO of WhatsApp wasn't all that happy.

In WhatsApp you'll find standard messaging features such as group threads, location sharing, photo- and video-sharing, and voice notes. You can place calls from within the app, however the calls aren't routed over the Internet, using your wireless minutes instead.

As with BBM, WhatsApp also lacks the ability for multidevice conversation syncing.

Download WhatsApp from the App Store.

Facebook Messenger

Despite owning WhatsApp, Facebook has promised to keep Messenger and its recent acquisition separate. As such, one could argue Facebook Messenger is actually a better messaging solution than WhatsApp.

Not only does it offer feature parity with WhatsApp, but it also allows for voice calls over data, and it syncs your conversation history across multiple devices, in real time. You can access the service through any Web browser or through native apps on platforms such as Android and iOS.

Download Facebook Mesenger form the App Store

Google Hangouts

Google's Hangouts service allows for messaging, voice calls (over data), video calls, stickers, GIFs, and location sharing.

In addition to iOS and Android apps, Google also offers Hangouts through any Web browser by accessing your Gmail or Google+ account. Like with Facebook Messenger, your conversation text is kept in sync across multiple devices.

Download Hangouts from the App Store.

Viber

Viber is similar to WhatsApp, in that it's a stand-alone service. One feature it offers you won't find from WhatsApp or BBM is a desktop app. By using a mobile app, and connecting the desktop app to your Viber account, you're message history is synced. You can seamlessly switch between your mobile device and your computer, and the recipient won't have any idea you've done so.

You can also place calls, either to fellow Viber users, or any phone number of your choosing.

Download Viber from the App Store.

One added benefit all of these apps have in common over iMessage is that they allow you to talk to anyone, no matter what platform the recipient is using. While Apple locks you into iMessage (in some cases, quite literally), these apps allow you to roam freely between platforms, free of issues caused by switching platforms.

 

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