The top 6 best messaging apps for 2024

The best messaging apps for 2024 will keep business and personal communications flowing – providing other people are willing to use them

Wednesday, 3 January, 2024

By the end of this year, we will be a quarter of the way through the 21st century, and one of the biggest communication growth areas since the new millennium involves direct messaging.

From 1990s SMS messages to today’s app-based communication tools, direct messaging has come a long way from the days of winking semicolon emojis.

However, the sheer volume of platforms arriving to market in recent years has created problems, as well as bringing benefits.

For one thing, it’s hard to find a service most of your friends and relatives are signed up to.

For another, you may have moral or ethical concerns about using certain companies’ tools.

Yet when evaluating the best messaging apps for 2024, it’s important to evaluate each tool on its own merits, looking beyond personal prejudice or attitudes towards a site’s owners.

These are our choices as the best personal communication apps, disregarding platforms which are exclusive to certain operating systems, such as Apple’s iMessage.

The six best messaging apps for 2024

1. WhatsApp.

Any list of messaging apps has to start with WhatsApp – one of the first platforms to achieve mass adoption and undoubtedly one of the best messaging apps for 2024.

Its double-tick message delivery status, ‘Typing…’ updates and customisable wallpapers have been widely emulated but rarely bettered, and its (512-strong) group chats are legendary.

As well as sharing your location, documents and contacts, it’s possible to make voice and video calls as well as sending encrypted messages which can disappear after a week.

2. Viber.

Although it wasn’t created by Facebook, WhatsApp is increasingly embedded in its parent company’s infrastructure. For Facebook refuseniks, Israel’s Viber is a fine place to start.

It works across both Mac and PC and the duopoly of smartphone OS. The interface is busier than WhatsApp, but it takes no time to learn.

Viber’s Communities feature enables moderated group chats with strangers, based on location, hobbies or sports teams. It offers video calls, GIFs and stickers, as well.

3. Signal.

While Signal works on the same Windows, Apple and Android-powered devices as the utilities listed above, it also adds Linux compatibility into the mix.

It eschews Viber’s busy interface with a minimalist setup that lacks customisation but is child’s play to learn. It can even send SMS messages to Android devices.

It may have ‘borrowed’ WhatsApp’s double-ticks, but Signal pioneered the end-to-end encryption its bigger rival later adopted. It also offers an eight-hour mute mode, a chatbot and an image editor.

4. Snapchat.

The darling of the 16-24 demographic before TikTok bulldozed its way onto the scene, Snapchat pioneered the concept of deleting messages long before our politicians did.

It focuses on self-deleting text messages, photos or short videos, encouraging its users to maintain daily communications with one another – a welcome touch in these lonely times.

Although primarily a smartphone utility, Snapchat works on PCs and Macs. Live location sharing enables you to find friends in public places or track them to ensure their safety.

5. Discord.

While Snapchat started as a photography app and grew into something more, Discord started as a gaming utility and grew into a more streamlined chat app.

Claiming a global user base of over 350 million, it’s one of the few platforms capable of challenging WhatsApp in terms of popularity.

Its gaming origins mean Discord excels at voice chat, while PS4 and PS5 integrations are beloved by Sony devotees. However, messages don’t receive end-to-end encryption.

6. Telegram.

Created by the Russian expats behind that country’s VK social media network, Dubai-based Telegram is perhaps the most security-conscious platform on this list.

It incorporates technical attributes like 256-bit symmetrical AES encryption, which is too technical to explain here but is hugely effective at protecting personal data from prying eyes.

While Signal prides itself on offering group chats to 1,000 people, Telegram supports 200,000. There’s an integral media editor, voice chat scheduling and a (paid) voice-to-text service.

Neil Cumins author picture


Neil is our resident tech expert. He's written guides on loads of broadband head-scratchers and is determined to solve all your technology problems!