I have a mixed family. While my wife and I are both (currently) using Android phones, as is one of my children; my other child uses an iPhone.

It's important for us to stay in contact, and phone calls aren't always viable. SMS is unreliable for us and, in any event, we only have small allotments of SMS messages available (to keep our mobile plans from being too expensive).

I'm looking for a messaging solution that will work for all of us.

  • The app should be available for iPhone and in the Google Play Store. (No sideloading.)
  • It should not use SMS as its delivery mechanism.
  • Free is good, but not required.

We have been using Kik Messenger, and it's okay, but technically we're violating the Terms of Service (because my kids aren't 17) and I'm tired of the unsolicited spam chat requests. Please don't suggest that.

  • 1
    Do you have privacy and security requirements?
    – user416
    Dec 1, 2014 at 14:45
  • @Jan: Nothing extraordinary. It's just quick notes to each other. "Dad, I'm ready to be picked up." "Honey, pick up some milk at the grocery." "Kids, there's meatloaf in the fridge. I'll be late." Dec 1, 2014 at 14:52
  • 2
    We've got a couple of related questions (with answers) you might wish to take a look at: Alternative messaging network to WhatsApp? being the closest to your request.
    – Izzy
    Dec 1, 2014 at 16:37
  • 1
    I'm surprised no one has mentioned Whatsapp and Viber. I'm personally in love with Whatsapp, but not long ago it became a paid app on a subscription base. I believe it was 1$ per year. Viber is quite good itself too, if not even better than Whatsapp as it allows free Viber calls with very good quality if you are calling withing the country you live at, if you try Viber calls with someone abroad it's still possible, but the connection is usually horrible. Alike Skype, but running well on phones. 100% free (at least for now :-))
    – Ramzy Shah
    Dec 5, 2014 at 7:34
  • I'd also throw in Slack as not so much a chat application, but a communication tool with channels to clearly list items.
    – DankyNanky
    Jan 10, 2017 at 9:43

8 Answers 8


Google Allo


  • is a proprietary cross-platform instant messaging aggregator for smartphones, tablets and personal computers

  • is available for Android, iOS, BlackBerry OS, Symbian, Windows Phone and Java ME mobile operating systems.For non-natively supported devices, a WAP interface is available. For desktop computers, clients are available for both Windows and Mac OS X.

  • supports interaction with popular messaging services such as Twitter, Facebook Chat and Google Talk


  • is a cross-platform instant messaging service for smartphones that uses the internet for communication. In addition to text messaging, users can send each other graphical stickers, emoticons, images, videos, audios, files, voice messages, contacts and location

  • Hike uses a 128-bit SSL encrypted, firewalled server for the exchange of media and text messages only on wifi. Messages are stored locally in the user's device and the data is not backed-up to Hike's server

  • hike messenger - Google Play and iTunes


  • Telegram is a messaging app with a focus on speed and security. It’s super-fast, simple, secure and free.

  • Telegram seamlessly syncs across all of your devices and can be used on desktops, tablets and phones alike. You can send an unlimited amount of messages, photos, videos and files of any type (.doc, .zip, .pdf, etc.). Telegram groups have up to 200 people and you can send broadcasts to up to 100 contacts at a time. Be sure to check our website for a list of Telegram apps for all platforms.

Must Read:

1.) Best cross platform messaging apps

2.) Comparison of instant messaging clients

I would recommend Telegram or WhatsApp


Google Hangouts works well for this. It was formerly known as Google Talk but the iOS and Android apps are now "Google Hangouts". It actually supports voice and video, but I haven't used those features. It syncs well between all clients, so if you use a computer and a phone it's seamless to transition a conversation between devices. You can also do group messaging, as well as individual messages.



Wire is a newly released cross-platform messaging app for Android and iOS. The main advantage over Kik messenger is that it's young and not wide-spread. That means you could have it all to yourself with very low risk of encountering spammers.

  • It is available at the iTunes and Google Play stores
  • Does not use SMS
  • It is free of charge
  • 1
    I know this comment isn't necessarily relevant to the question, but according to support.wire.com/hc/en-us/articles/… it's likely that Wire has the capability to read everybody's messages. I can't believe that somebody would release yet another new messaging app that leaves all their customers open to wholesale spying. Dec 4, 2014 at 19:55
  • 1
    Doesn't look trustworthy at all; I bet it's one of these "attract people with a pretty UI and exciting features and then sell their data and conversations to some ad company". I suggest you take a look at some paid options; even Whatsapp (Facebook) looks more trustworthy than this.
    – user111
    Dec 5, 2014 at 15:04

Threema, a paid end-to-end encrypted chat application is a good option, and it's available for all major mobile platforms - iPhone, Android and Windows.

Telegram is another option, it also puts the accent on encryption and privacy however it appears to be flawed, but nevertheless you'll get (at worst) the same level of privacy as SMS so if you don't mind then use it, it's free and the UI is pretty good.


BirdsBeep is a newly released cross-platform messaging app for Android, iOS, blackberry, windows & for other platform also. The main advantage over other messenger is that it is fully secure.

It is available at the iTunes and Google Play stores.

  • 1
    Thanks for your answer, William! But could you please edit it and include how it matches the other requirements: is it free, and does not use SMS as delivery system?
    – Izzy
    Jul 4, 2015 at 12:17

The list would not be complete without mentioning Signal from Open Whisper Systems. This messenger is an open source project with privacy in mind, available for Android- and iPhones.

  • It offers messaging with end-to-end encryption.
  • You can make calls using internet access.
  • It's for free.

Free Chat Messenger for Android and iPhone
Free Download nandbox chat messenger for Android & Iphone to share photo, video, audio & voice notes with friends and family in the secure environment; nandbox is the only messenger supports multiple profiles to protect user identity and privacy. chat messenger


Hands down, Whastapp (+1 for Winged answer, btw).

It offers a very simple and intuitive interface, allowing to share photos, videos, current GPS position, contacts, etc. Has a veeeeery small fee, only after the first year of activation.

It does not offer functionalities like PC-messaging etc, but that's also good: it excels where it should... mobile messaging. Edit: It now offers PC messaging as well.

Whatsapp is the most popular messaging option as of 2014.

  • I don't get why the downvote, if my answer was the first one to mention WhatsApp... Sep 9, 2017 at 15:50

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