I want to create a messenger app with a few other functions (like making polls) but am unsure if I should use a specific program to create the app. I researched a bit and a few user recommended Android Studio, but others also critizised it a lot. Also I want to make the app available for Android and IOS so that is probably another downside to Android Studio. Is there a good software I could use to create an app?
If you are new to Mobile App Development and want to publish on both platforms Android and iOS I can recommend the flutter framework https://flutter.dev/ in combination with Visual Studio Code. Flutter has the benefit that you will have one code base for both App Platforms.
To build iOS Apps you need a Mac no matter which framework you are using. You can build Android Apps on Windows, Linux and Mac.
Get started: https://flutter.dev/docs/get-started/install
There are also great youtube channels e.g. this one which offers a demo of a Messenger App:
Consider using Visual Studio for your development. The community edition will allow you to create desktop and mobile apps that target multiple platforms. I have successfully used it to create an Android app.
I did not try it, but there are Chat App builders out there, like AppyPie. If you want a free solution with true white-labeling, you must learn programming. If you don't like recurring costs, but be fine to pay some money, you could hire someone to do it for you, too.
In case you are interested in learning how to do your own chat app, it really depends on your use-case. I think your request is the perfect use-case to build an app using expo-cli and React Native, but ultimately you should start on something simpler, because it won't help if you don't understand what you are doing, when you simply follow a tutorial that teaches you to do so.
I’ve tried a lot of those “free app builders”, but almost all of them make you pay in the end. Also, even if you do make an app, you’ll have to pay Apple’s $99 annual developer fee to get the app on the App Store. If you’re doing this for a small amount of people, it will most likely not be worth spending that much to distribute your app.
I would recommend using an online poling website (a quick google search found this) and giving the people the website. If they need it to be an app, just add a website link to the home screen. This method is so much cheaper and easier.