Discover 30 of the best instant messaging apps that can improve communication and collaboration within your team. From popular tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams to lesser-known options, this article will provide you with a comprehensive list of IM apps your business could use.
What is an instant messaging app?
An instant messaging app is a software application that allows users to send and receive messages in real time. Instant messengers enable individuals or groups to communicate quickly and efficiently through text, voice, or video chat without the need for second phone number apps or mail apps.
Instant messaging apps have become increasingly popular due to their convenience and ease of use, making them essential tools for personal and business communication alike.
What are the benefits of using instant messaging for business communication?
Instant messaging can revolutionize the way businesses communicate, providing a range of benefits that traditional methods like email and phone calls cannot match. Here are five reasons why your business should consider using instant messaging:
- Improved efficiency: Instant messaging allows for quick and easy communication, reducing the time it takes to send messages back and forth.
- Increased productivity: With instant messaging, teams can collaborate more effectively, leading to increased productivity levels.
- Cost-effective: Many instant messaging apps are free or low-cost, making them an affordable solution for businesses of all sizes.
- Real-time communication: Instant messaging facilitates real-time conversations, allowing team members to get answers to their questions immediately.
- Easier remote work: As more businesses move towards remote work arrangements, instant messaging makes it easier for employees to stay connected and engaged with their colleagues.
Be sure to check out this video, ‘Instant Messaging Etiquette,’ by GCFLearnFree, to learn the right instant messaging etiquette if you’re new to the whole thing:
Small Business Deals
What is the best app for instant messaging in a business setting?
Slack is the most popular messaging app for businesses of all sizes. It offers real-time messaging, file sharing, video conferencing, and collaboration tools to enhance team productivity. Slack is highly customizable, secure, and integrates with other business software. It has a free tier with affordable paid plans, making it a cost-effective solution.
While Slack leads the pack for business-focused messaging, Microsoft Teams emerges as a strong runner-up in this category. A part of the Microsoft 365 suite of tools, Teams is an especially popular choice among businesses that already leverage Microsoft’s range of services.
Microsoft Teams offers many of the same features as Slack, including instant messaging, file sharing, and video conferencing. However, where it shines is in its seamless integration with other Microsoft products like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. This makes it incredibly easy for team members to collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations without leaving the Teams environment.
Our Methodology to Pick the Top Instant Messaging Apps
In our fast-paced, interconnected world, instant messaging apps have become essential tools for businesses to maintain fluid communication, whether internally or with clients.
The utility of these apps goes beyond just sending messages; they facilitate collaboration, quick information exchange, and help in maintaining a log of conversations.
For entrepreneurs and small business owners, selecting the right app can significantly enhance operational efficiency and teamwork.
Here’s a breakdown of the criteria we used in our selection process, each ranked on a scale of 1 (least critical) to 5 (most critical):
Speed and Reliability (5/5)
The app should deliver messages promptly and reliably without delays, ensuring real-time communication. Any lag can impede the flow of information and slow down decision-making processes.
Ease of Use (5/5)
We prioritize apps with an intuitive interface and straightforward functionality so that all team members, regardless of their tech-savviness, can use them effectively.
Security and Privacy (5/5)
Given the sensitive nature of business communications, the app must provide robust security measures, including end-to-end encryption, to safeguard messages from unauthorized access.
File Sharing Capabilities (5/5)
The ability to share various file types (documents, images, videos) is crucial for collaborative efforts. We look for apps that support versatile file sharing without compromising quality or security.
Group Messaging and Collaboration Tools (4/5)
Features supporting group chats, video conferencing, and screen sharing contribute to a cohesive team environment. These tools should enhance, not hinder, productivity.
Integration with Other Business Tools (4/5)
The app’s compatibility with other business software (like CRM systems, email, or project management tools) is essential for a streamlined workflow, preventing the fragmentation of work across platforms.
Customization Options (3/5)
The ability to customize notifications, chat backgrounds, and other aesthetic features can enhance user experience, though they are not essential to the app’s functionality.
Availability Across Devices (5/5)
The app should be accessible across various devices and operating systems (iOS, Android, Windows, etc.), allowing team members to stay connected from anywhere.
We consider the cost associated with premium versions and assess whether the additional features provide meaningful value to businesses, especially those operating on a tight budget.
User Reviews and Reputation (4/5)
An app’s reputation and the feedback it receives from its user base can provide insight into its performance, reliability, and customer service quality.
Regulatory Compliance (4/5)
For certain industries, compliance with regulations (like HIPAA in healthcare) is crucial. We consider whether the app meets these specific criteria where necessary.
Our selections are based on comprehensive research and analysis, ensuring that the recommended instant messaging apps are not only robust in features and security but also conducive to enhancing business communication and collaboration.
Top Instant Messaging Apps in 2023
As technology continues to evolve, so do the instant messaging services that businesses rely on for communication. Popular instant messaging platforms offer a range of features and benefits to help teams collaborate more effectively and efficiently. Here are some of the top business instant messaging apps to keep an eye on in 2023.
Quick Reference Table
The table below serves as a quick reference for those looking for a brief overview of the best instant messaging applications available in 2023. This table offers a description of each application, summarizing its key features. The details of each application, including its strengths, weaknesses, and unique features, will be discussed more extensively in the subsequent sections.
|1.||Slack||A widely used digital platform for the workplace that boosts productivity and integrates with various services and tools.|
|2.||Microsoft Teams||A platform offering features like video conferencing, file sharing, and chat to streamline communication.|
|3.||WhatsApp for Business||Designed for small businesses to interact with customers, featuring messaging tools and a business profile.|
|4.||Discord||Facilitates easy conversation among groups, making it ideal for businesses to connect with their teams or clients.|
|5.||Facebook Messenger for Business||Enables businesses to interact with customers on one of the most popular social media sites.|
|6.||Zoho Cliq||A business communication software that simplifies internal communication, making it possible for teams to work together from anywhere.|
|7.||Signal Private Messenger||A messaging app that prioritizes privacy, using end-to-end encryption to secure conversations.|
|8.||Telegram Messenger App||A fast, simple, free messaging app that lets users send messages and any file type, supports end-to-end encrypted voice and video calls.|
|9.||TeamViewer Meeting||A videoconferencing and collaboration platform that enables secure online meetings, audio and video calls, instant messages, screen sharing, and more.|
|10.||Google Chat||An instant messaging app that offers secure and private communications for teams.|
|11.||RingCentral||Provides simplified business communication for 5 million users globally, enables productivity and connectivity from anywhere.|
|12.||Mattermost||A unified platform for technical and operational teams to collaborate through channels, automation, and project management.|
|13.||Amazon Chime||A communications service that enables users to easily connect with colleagues and customers in real time.|
|14.||WebEx by Cisco||An all-in-one cloud platform for calling, meetings, messaging, and events, trusted by 95% of Fortune 500 companies.|
|15.||Troop Messenger||A platform for teams that offers instant messenger, audio and video calling, group messaging, and more.|
|16.||Flock||A team collaboration platform for cross-functional work.|
|17.||Workplace||A tool by Meta that offers familiar, secure, mobile, integrated, and inclusive technology for enhancing the employee experience.|
|18.||iMessage||An Apple messaging app for texting, sending photos, videos, and more.|
|19.||Android Messages||The official messaging app for Android users for text and multimedia messages.|
|20.||Clariti||A free digital collaboration tool that allows teams to communicate via email, chat, audio calling, and more in one place.|
|21.||Spike||A collaborative email platform that combines the simplicity of chat and the power of email.|
|22.||Wire||Offers end-to-end encrypted messaging, conferencing, and file sharing for cloud, private cloud, and on-premises deployment options.|
|23.||Ryver||A team collaboration app designed to address the "email problem" by enabling efficient communication, task management, and business process automation.|
|24.||Twist||An asynchronous messaging app designed to improve workplace communication and collaboration.|
|25.||Chatwork||Offers a group chat service for global teams, aiming to improve teamwork without drama and reduce email overload.|
|26.||LINE||More than just a messenger app, it offers various services such as LINE Pay for easy and safe payments, and Clova for AI assistance.|
|27.||Wickr||Offers a secure communication and collaboration platform with end-to-end encryption, advanced security features, and data retention policies.|
|28.||Viber||Offers free and secure messaging and calling features for anyone, anywhere.|
|29.||Silence||A free, open-source SMS and MMS messaging app that encrypts messages locally and over the air for privacy and security.|
|30.||Brosix||Comes with unique features and tools for boosting team collaboration and productivity such as being able to tailor shared chat spaces.|
Millions of people worldwide use Slack, one of the best messaging apps and a digital platform designed for the workplace. It simplifies business communication, unites systems, boosts productivity, and provides enterprise key management. Slack’s API and more than 2,500 apps integrate with various services and tools to streamline tasks and provide context to conversations.
2. Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams is a collaboration platform designed for businesses of all sizes. It offers features such as video conferencing, file sharing, and chat to streamline communication and improve productivity. Teams integrates with various Microsoft 365 allowing team collaboration throughout the entire Microsoft office toolkit.
3. WhatsApp for Business
WhatsApp Business is a free popular messaging app for Android and iPhone designed for small business owners to interact with customers. It includes messaging tools and a business profile and allows the use of a landline/fixed phone number. Both WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Messenger can be installed on the same phone with different numbers. The app includes the ability to send multimedia, make free calls, and send free international messages.
Discord is a communication platform with 150 million monthly active users and 19 million active servers per week. It facilitates easy conversation among groups, making it ideal for businesses to connect with their teams or clients. With 4 billion server conversation minutes daily, Discord offers a reliable and efficient way to communicate with others.
5. Facebook Messenger for Business
Facebook Messenger for Business is a communication tool that enables businesses to interact with customers on one of the most popular social media sites. The platform offers various features, including Facebook messenger tags, that allow businesses to sort and prioritize conversations. Customers can communicate with businesses through the platform and receive quick responses. However, if users prefer more privacy, they can learn how to turn off read receipts, which will prevent others from seeing when they’ve read a message.
6. Zoho Cliq
Zoho Cliq is a business communication software that simplifies internal communication, making it possible for teams to work together from anywhere. With organized conversations, searchable messages, and connections to favorite tools, teams can collaborate transparently and efficiently. The software also features custom bots, voice calls, video messages, and data encryption to ensure data security.
7. Signal Private Messenger
Signal is a messaging app that prioritizes privacy, using end-to-end encryption to secure conversations. It allows users to share text and voice messages, media, and files for free, make crystal-clear calls, and join group chats. Signal is free and independent of major tech companies, with no ads or tracking. It is supported by grants and donations.
8. Telegram Messenger App
Telegram Messenger App is a fast, simple, free messaging app that lets users send messages and any file type. It supports end-to-end encrypted voice and video calls and allows for large group chats and channels. Telegram is for anyone who wants fast and reliable messaging and calls, including business users and small teams.
9. TeamViewer Meeting
TeamViewer Meeting is a videoconferencing and collaboration platform that enables secure online meetings, audio and video calls, instant messages, screen sharing, and more. It offers built-in security features such as end-to-end encryption, meeting lock, passwords, and compliance with GDPR and HIPAA. With TeamViewer Meeting, you can host and join meetings from any device, collaborate closely with your team, and simplify remote education and training.
10. Google Chat
Google Chat is one of the other instant messaging apps that offers secure and private communications for teams. It enables you to communicate with your teammates, partners, and customers in real time. With Google Chat, you can quickly connect through text, audio, or video calls. You can also share files easily, collaborate on documents in Google Drive, assign tasks to team members, and use bots to automate tasks.
RingCentral provides simplified business communication for 5 million users globally. Their impact report highlights their support for diversity and communities, while their trust center ensures secure and reliable conversations. They were named a Leader in the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant for UCaaS. With 22 offices in 14 countries, RingCentral enables productivity and connectivity from anywhere.
Mattermost is a unified platform for technical and operational teams to collaborate through channels, automation, and project management. It offers productivity solutions, including Playbooks for workflows and Boards for project tracking, and integrates with other tools through Connections. The platform is open source, secure, and customizable for on-premise or secure cloud deployment.
13. Amazon Chime
Amazon Chime is a communications service that enables users to easily connect with colleagues and customers in real time. It offers voice, video, chat, and screen-sharing capabilities for high-quality collaboration. Amazon Chime also includes tools such as audio conferencing and file sharing. With end-to-end encryption and enhanced security features, Amazon Chime helps to ensure data protection.
14. WebEx by Cisco
Webex is an all-in-one cloud platform for calling, meetings, messaging, and events, trusted by 95% of Fortune 500 companies. It’s flexible, adaptable, and secure, with features like immersive sharing, team messaging, and interactive audience tools. Webex integrates seamlessly into over 100 industry-leading apps and offers zero-trust security and end-to-end encryption.
15. Troop Messenger
Troop Messenger is a platform for teams that offers instant messenger, audio and video calling, group messaging, and more. It also provides end-to-end encryption, Chat API, a custom app, and a range of affordable plans.
Flock is a team collaboration platform for cross-functional work. It offers channels for streamlined communication, and video conferencing with enhanced features like screen sharing, productivity tools, and secure file sharing. Flock provides personalized onboarding, data security, and 24/7 support. The platform is favored by growing businesses to improve productivity and efficiency. It has been rated as the top team chat alternative and a hot product for team collaboration.
Workplace by Meta offers familiar, secure, mobile, integrated, and inclusive technology for enhancing the employee experience. It is designed to work with your current tools and offers Workplace for Good program for eligible non-profits. Workplace prioritizes security and privacy and keeps data separate from Facebook without showing ads.
iMessage is an Apple messaging app for texting, sending photos, videos, and more. iMessage works with iOS devices and Mac computers to let you easily communicate with friends, family, and colleagues on any device. It also offers powerful features like end-to-end encryption, real-time typing indicator, message effects, support for group conversations, and more.
19. Android Messages
For Android users, Android Messages is the official messaging app for text and multimedia messages. It has all the features you need to stay in touch with family, friends, and colleagues, including smart replies and an AI-powered conversation assistant. Android Messages offers end-to-end encryption to keep conversations private and secure.
Clariti is a free digital collaboration tool that allows teams to communicate via email, chat, audio calling, and more in one place, eliminating the need to waste time searching across multiple tools. It automatically connects related information across different tools in threads to save time and increase productivity. It supports up to four email accounts and allows for instant chat with geographically dispersed team members.
Spike is a collaborative email platform that combines the simplicity of chat and the power of email to help teams connect, create, and collaborate. Its conversational email feature removes stiff formalities and makes communication more natural, while its intelligent priority inbox removes distractions. Spike also includes a note app, task manager, team chat, reminders, unified calendar, and support for multiple email accounts.
Wire offers end-to-end encrypted messaging, conferencing, and file sharing for cloud, private cloud, and on-premises deployment options. The platform is independently audited and open source. Wire can be used across the web, mobile devices, and PC, and offers crisis collaboration, secure file sharing, and government compliance features.
Ryver is a team collaboration app designed to address the “email problem” by enabling efficient communication, task management, and business process automation. It features custom conversation channels, fully integrated collaboration spaces, and tools for optimizing business processes. With unlimited collaboration and strict data security measures, Ryver can help teams work more productively while keeping their data safe.
Twist is an asynchronous messaging app designed to improve workplace communication and collaboration. Its thread-based system helps organize conversations, while structured channels break down team silos. Twist helps reduce digital stress by providing smarter notifications and preventing distractions with no online status bubbles or notification dots. Twist has been praised by customers for improving productivity and deep work by reducing back-to-back meetings.
Chatwork offers a group chat service for global teams, aiming to improve teamwork without drama and reduce email overload. They also provide project-specific video chats to replace unproductive meetings and organize files for easy access. Security is their top priority, using 256-bit encryption and ISO27001 certification to ensure data protection.
LINE is more than just a messenger app, it offers various services such as LINE Pay for easy and safe payments, and Clova for AI assistance. The messenger app allows for free texts, voice, and video calls, and OpenChat for meeting new friends. Users can also use LINE Wallet to make payments and access various financial services.
Wickr offers a secure communication and collaboration platform with end-to-end encryption, advanced security features, and data retention policies for the military, government agencies, enterprises, and individuals.
Viber offers free and secure messaging and calling features for anyone, anywhere. Its features include voice and video calls, group chats and calls, and communities. Viber is available for your desktop or mobile device, with chats being synced across all devices.
Silence is a free, open-source SMS and MMS messaging app that encrypts messages locally and over the air for privacy and security. It works like a regular SMS app, and users don’t need to sign up for anything.
Brosix comes with unique features and tools for boosting team collaboration and productivity such as being able to tailor shared chat spaces. It is cloud-based, suitable for teams of all sizes, and can accommodate changing team sizes with different available levels of upgrades.
What is the difference between texting and instant messaging?
While texting and instant messaging are both forms of digital communication, there are some key differences between the two. Texting refers specifically to sending short messages via SMS, while instant messaging apps allow for more real-time communication with features such as group chats and file sharing.
Is there a difference between chat apps and messaging apps?
Chat apps and messaging apps are often used interchangeably, but there is a subtle difference between the two. While both tools typically include a chat feature, messaging apps tend to offer more robust functionality such as video calls, file sharing, and group chats. Yelp messaging is a good example of a simple chat app.
What is the most-used instant messaging app?
When it comes to instant messaging apps, WhatsApp reigns supreme as the most-used app in the world with over 2 billion monthly active users in more than 150 countries. This application, which was initially released in 2009, has since become a cornerstone of modern digital communication.
However, it’s worth noting that competition in this space is fierce, with apps like Facebook Messenger and Telegram also having a significant user base. Nonetheless, WhatsApp’s broad user base, multi-platform support, and variety of features make it stand out as the leading player in this domain.
Is instant messaging as secure as email?
In the context of security, let’s compare instant messaging and email, two of the most widely used forms of digital communication.
Here’s a breakdown of how they stack up against each other:
- Both instant messaging and emails are susceptible to malware, implying that they can be exploited by cybercriminals to deliver harmful software to users’ devices. Emails, in particular, are more prone to malware and viruses. This is primarily due to their format, which often includes attachments and links that can hide malicious content.
- While emails are often encrypted during transit (when they are sent from one server to another), they are typically stored unencrypted on the email server. This storage approach means that if the email server is compromised, the stored emails can be accessed and read without needing any decryption keys.
- To contrast, many instant messaging apps are designed with a strong emphasis on security and privacy. For example, apps like WhatsApp use end-to-end encryption, which means only the sender and receiver can read the messages, while anyone else, including the service provider, can’t decipher the content.
While end-to-end encryption on instant messaging apps makes them safer than email, it’s important to remember that no system is entirely invulnerable, and best practices such as regularly updating software, not clicking on suspicious links, and using strong, unique passwords should always be followed to ensure optimal security.
What is the most discreet messaging app?
Signal Private Messenger is a discreet messaging app that offers end-to-end encryption for secure communication. Users can create encrypted groups and share media with complete privacy. There are no separate logins or passwords to manage – just use your existing mobile number and address book for registration.
Should businesses use instant messaging platforms for video calls?
Instant messaging platforms can be a practical option for businesses to conduct video calls, with useful features like screen sharing and virtual backgrounds. However, security and privacy concerns should not be overlooked. Businesses must ensure that the platform they use meets their security standards and complies with relevant regulations.
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