These days, no app category seems to be more oversaturated than messaging apps. With the overwhelming popularity of applications like iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and Hangouts, messaging apps haven’t been as big as they are now since the days of AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) in the early-to-mid 2000s. Typically, most users will find themselves gravitating towards the messaging service which holds the majority of their friends and fellow chatters, but there are advantages to using other apps. Kik, for example, can be used for anonymous chatting in addition to getting ahold of your friends. It’s why Kik’s become so popular—it’s easy to meet new people and chat through the app without having to give out your number to random strangers.
But Kik’s also tried to become more than just a messaging app in recent years. Video chat, Snapchat-like filters, stickers and more have bogged the app down with useless features that most users won’t need, making the app larger and increasingly unstable. Even worse, Kik has become predominantly filled with spam and underage users, making it difficult to chat with other users without risking being blown up with spam or talking to a high school student from a distant state. All of this makes Kik a poor choice, both for communicating with your friends and for meeting new people online.
So, if you’re tired of the constant spam, or you want to get away from the younger audience that’s taken over Kik in recent years, let’s check out seven of the best Kik alternatives for both iOS and Android.
WhatsApp is not quite as popular stateside as competitors like iMessage or Hangouts, but more than half the world uses WhatsApp as their primary communication device, dominating 109 countries as of 2016. The Facebook-owned messaging service—that's right, in addition to Facebook Messenger, the second most-popular messaging app worldwide—absolutely dominates countries like Mexico, India, Brazil, and other developing countries where data plans are far more expensive than what we've seen in the US. WhatsApp is, outside of a couple small features, a pure messaging app that doesn't bog your phone down with unnecessary resources and other poorly-optimized features.
First, let's talk about the design differences between WhatsApp versions. WhatsApp follows design guidelines for both iOS and Android pretty closely, depending on which platform you're using. On iOS, the app features a clean blue-and-white design, obviously inspired by iMessage. On Android, the app looks quite a bit different, with a tab-based interface and solid forest green color scheme that more closely relates to the messaging apps we've seen on Android, like Google's own SMS messaging app or Hangouts. Both feature similar functionalities within their designs though, with the Android app dividing the app into calls, chats, and your contacts list, while the iOS keeps your chats front and center. Each app has a new chat icon easily accessible anywhere from the main display.
Feature-wise, both apps are near-identical to each other, with the iOS and Android versions both including standard messaging features expected by consumers in 2017. Within each chat interface, you'll find options to send photos both from your gallery and your camera automatically, video or audio clips to your friends over WiFi or data, location information, and even contact information to your friends and family members using the app. Despite the differences with design of the conversation display in both versions, the chat interface seems to match each other almost exactly. Below the conversation thread—either with one or multiple users inside a group message—you'll find the same text field, along with a send button and an option to include photos in your message. Both apps also use the same tan, textured background within the app, creating a sense of unity between design despite both platforms being extremely different to use.
So beyond basic chats, what does WhatsApp provide? Let's break it down: first, there's absolutely no fees, ads, or in-app purchases included in the app, making it a great choice for any user looking for an entirely free app. The app is also incredibly lightweight, especially in comparison to apps like Facebook Messenger. Whereas that app focuses primarily on trying to be the app for everything you could ever want—games, mobile payments, and more—WhatsApp focuses on getting the fundamentals of messaging right without adding any additional bloat. The app itself is nearly half the size of the Facebook Messenger app on iOS and Android, and without the features included in Messenger, is able to load and run faster than Messenger on both low and high-end phones. WhatsApp's only notable additional feature to the standard messaging and calling stuff in the basic app is its social feature, allowing you to post statuses and stories similar to AIM and Snapchat, respectively.
Overall, WhatsApp is a great replacement for Kik. It's easy enough to add contacts through your device, though we wish it was as easy as trading Kik usernames. The app runs smooth and doesn't use a massive amount of battery, making for a great experience in the arena of terribly optimized chat apps. Using the app is smooth and easy, calls sound great on WiFi or wireless data, and the lack of ads and bloatware make using the app a breeze. WhatsApp may not replace Kik for anonymous chatting anytime soon, but it sure can try—it's a great app, one absolutely worthy of keeping on your phone.
Yes, that's right—our second recommendation is another app owned by Facebook. But where WhatsApp largely serves foreign and developing countries, Facebook Messenger is the app that's caught on in Facebook's own home country, largely based on the ubiquity of Facebook in our modern culture. With a built-in user base of over 2 billion users, Facebook Messenger is the easiest way to chat with the people you already know, even if you'll likely find the discovery tools to be a bit lacking overall.
Let's start with the basics. If you haven't used Facebook Messenger before, you likely aren't on Facebook. The app does, unsurprisingly, require a Facebook profile, but Messenger itself doesn't require Facebook to be installed on your phone. Once you've loaded into the main app, you'll find the main page to be a bit busy. The top features a search bar, along with a tab-based interface for your inbox, active users, group messages, and calls. In the inbox tab, you'll find your messages in reverse-chronological order, along with an "Active Now" interface built in. And if you scroll up, you'll find Messenger's hidden "Stories" feature, a direct copy of Snapchat's own stories (though you're much less likely to find anyone using it). At the very bottom of the app are a few more tabs: home, contacts, camera, games, and a Facebook group feature for messaging brands and companies. It's all a bit much, if you're new to the app, but most of the features can be easily ignored.
The basic chat interface is clean, though, with a nice, bright blue-on-white interface. From within each chat thread, there are various options to choose from for sending messages. At the top of the messaging interface, you can activate a voice or video call to any user, making it easy to reach out to anyone regardless of their operating system of choice. At the bottom of each chat, you have near-endless possibilities for sending messages to users and others. You can send your location, photos, videos, audio recordings, emojis, stickers, even money, all within a single app. The possibilities are nearly limitless, making it easy to send all sorts of messages to others quickly and easily.
Each chat thread can be customized by hitting the information button in the top-right corner, From there, you can change how notifications work, modify the chat's color theme, pick your automatic emoji for the thread (by default, it's a like), change nicknames for people inside the app, enable a "secret conversation" mode that automatically deletes messages after a certain amount of time, and more. The customization involved in Messenger is something we haven't seen from most other messaging apps, making it a unique offering among the litany of other selections.
As we mentioned, Facebook Messenger manages to fit in more features than most users will ever need or want. There's the Snapchat-styled AR filters and stickers, allowing you to add effects and designs to your Snap-like photo messages for sending to users. There's the aforementioned Stories rip-off, though no one seems to be using it too much. There's a built-in games interface within Messenger, with multiplayer games where you can compete against your friends for points and high scores. A lot of this might seem like bloat—and it is, to a point—but it also makes for one of the most well-rounded chat apps on the market today. In fact, Facebook Messenger really only falls in one major category: discovery. You don't necessarily need to be friends on Facebook with someone to message them, but you're going to run into the unique problem of your message being pushed into an "Other" category that hides your message automatically. This lack of ability to meet and communicate with new people makes it difficult to compete with Kik.
But overall, Messenger is one of the best appsyou can pick on the market. For one, the audience is there—you won't have to convince your friends to switch over to a new messaging app if they're already on this one. The app is loaded with features, making it a one-stop shop to replace pretty much any communication app on your phone. The built-in functionality works well, even if some of it is directly taken from apps like Snapchat or Venmo. The app can be a bit of a battery and resource hog, and it's certainly not a slim app, but for replacing apps like Kik, you won't find much better than Messenger.
Like WhatsApp, WeChat has had its fair share of difficulty penetrating the world outside of its home country of China. You might not've heard of WeChat, but the world has: the messaging app has almost a billion active users, with the app being used for professional and personal communications within China itself. The app has replaced mainstays like email and SMS messages for hundreds of millions of people, and even though the app's had challenges making moves within other countries, its success in China is nothing to blink at. Like WhatsApp, you can chat, share images, send video and audio to other users, and more. In addition to standard text and photo messages, the app supports all sorts of calling, including voice, video, and group calling. The app manages to be resilient enough for business and casual usage, but it's best Kik-replacement feature is the ability to meet new people for chatting. Heading into the Discover tab inside the app invites you to shake your phone. The app then searches for other users shaking their phones at the same time, and that's it—new friend discovered. WeChat's social features make Kik's username-based search functions seem like a thing of the past, with meeting and making new friends incredibly easy for anyone to use. Whether you're looking for a standard messaging service or you want to meet new people, WeChat's a great app—if you can find other stateside users, that is.
Line is a direct competitor to WeChat in China and other Asian countries, but the app's presented a real challenge to WeChat and similar apps with its popularity expanding globally, downloaded over 500 million times on Android alone. With millions of active users, Line might not be as well-known as Kik or WhatsApp, but it's certainly worth showing some attention. Like WeChat, Line offers free messaging, video calls, voice calls, and group chats, with support for up to 200 users chatting in a group at once. The app supports stickers and emoji, and even has a desktop client for chatting away from your phone. You can add your contacts, or meet new people through the app's social network. Line's added a bunch of features inspired by other social media apps, including the ability to follow people's accounts (like Twitter or Facebook) and the ability to create a poll for determining anything from what to do, where to go, or what to eat. Line's not quite as popular as its direct competitor in WeChat, but by no means is it a bad app. We might prefer WeChat for it's shake-to-discover feature, but Line's worth looking into on both iOS and Android.
Viber's aesthetic more closely aligns with apps like Skype than it does with Kik, but that doesn't mean it's a bad messaging app by any means. On the contrary, Viber's packed with both features and millions of regular users, making it easy to use the app to keep in communication with your friends. Linking your cell number to the app connects you to any and all contacts also signed up with Viber, an app that's been downloaded over 500 million times on Android alone. Once you're signed in, you can do all the standard communication features you'd expect from a messaging application. You can chat, share media like photos, videos and audio clips, send files back and forth between users, and more. Since Viber is a similar app to Skype, you can place video and voice calls between users without paying a cent, and you can even place international calls to Viber users around the world, with calls to traditional numbers costing only a few cents per minute depending on location. And since Viber is a messaging app in 2017, emoji and stickers are both supported within the app. Overall, it's a strong contender for messaging apps, even if it doesn't quite meet the highs of WhatsApp, Messenger, and WeChat.
Sure, Snapchat isn't quite as traditional a messaging app as WhatsApp, Viber, or WeChat, but it's also one of our favorite social apps for one major reason: it's incredibly, incredibly fun to use. Though Snapchat is largely based around sending images and videos, the app can also be used for sending chats to other users, which automatically delete themselves after the message has been viewed. Privacy is a major factor in Snapchat's usage, and the deletion of photos, videos, and text makes it a really interesting choice for users around the world. Group chats exist as well, with those messages not deleting for 24 hours, so it's easy to make plans and speak amongst yourselves without the messages disappearing immediately. Snapchat's features have been copied by dozens of social and messaging apps, including Facebook's own WhatsApp and Messenger apps directly implementing Stories as a feature of their own, but no app has quite built a featureset as great as Snapchat's own. One place this app does fall in comparison to competitors: it's a bit more difficult to meet new people without trading usernames or Snapcodes. Luckily, communities exist online—including in environments like Reddit—for such an event. If you aren't using Snapchat yet, it's an incredibly fun and rewarding app worth keeping on your phone—even if the app is a bit of a battery and data hog.
If you're looking for an app that's more secure than Kik, Signal is trusted around the world for keeping its users messages safe with end-to-end encryptions. Whereas apps like WeChat and WhatsApp have found to be insecure for sending messages that require privacy and security above all else, Signal is recommended by web security experts like the EFF for keeping your messages secure and safe against leaks and data hacks. Infamous whistleblower Edward Snowden himself has recommended and endorsed the app on multiple occasions, so you can be sure the app is verified for safety and security. But the app's fast too, and both the iOS and Android versions match their respective themes, so you never feel too out of place on your phone with an unfamiliar interface. If there's one place Signal falls over Kik, it's unsurprisingly the social features of the app. Signal isn't quite built to meet and make new connections through the app—you use your existing phone numbers to make connections. Finding your existing friends through Signal is easy enough, but finding new friends is much harder. Still, for those users looking to make their conversations entirely private, Signal is by far the best app on either platform. It's fast, free, and completely secured.