While some people bemoan the lost art of conversation, there’s no doubt modern technology has improved our ability to communicate.
However, the sheer diversity of communication apps currently available makes it tricky to know which ones to install on your phone.
In this article, we consider the best communication apps for modern life and trends – from keeping in contact with friends to Voice over IP telephony.
We’ve also shortlisted our favourite work-based apps, since our smartphones are increasingly acting as a bridge to the office – whether we want them to or not…
- WhatsApp. If you haven’t used WhatsApp before, you’ll be surprised by its simplicity and intuitiveness. This Facebook-owned platform excels at group chats, while it also has an impressive emoji collection. Voice calling is a popular recent addition
- Telegram. If you’re not comfortable using a free Facebook-based app after recent revelations about data misuse, Telegram is a viable WhatsApp alternative. Messages can self-destruct, everything is fully encrypted, and groups support up to 200 users
- WeChat. Previously dominant in China, and now expanding its reach into Europe, WeChat offers the same instant messaging and group chats as the apps above. It also includes video and voice calls, with related Android Wear and Apple Watch apps.
- Skype. No list of this nature would be complete without including the daddy of VoIP services. Skype’s free video and voice calling functionalities are legendary, but it can also be used to send text and photo messages. There are professional versions for business users
- Viber. Available on platforms as diverse as Windows and Linux, Viber has over 500 million users. Account holders are identified by their mobile numbers for simplicity; like arch-rival Skype, users can call non-Viber landline and mobile numbers at modest rates
- Hangouts. Designed to work with the Chrome browser, Hangouts is a survivor of the defunct Google+ social media platform. It offers the usual free voice and video calls via a simple Android/iOS interface, making this one of the best communication apps.
- Microsoft Teams. Fully Office compatible, Teams is great for screen sharing during video calling, or distributing documents among groups. It’s a viable email replacement, too, with a proper text editor encompassing a subject line and even an importance indicator
- Trello. Trello is a superb project management platform, effectively creating a noticeboard of sticky notes for each topic or project. It’s easy to install and use, and its text-based notes support hyperlinks and comments. Jumping between boards is child’s play, too
- Slack. Less intrusive than email and more informal than Trello, Slack is a team-oriented messaging app built around scheduling and project management. It supports file sharing, subgroup communications and message archiving, though the interface is unintuitive.