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Top Apps for Staying Close When Apart

There’s little pleasure to be forced apart, even temporarily. But today’s technology works wonders, and, to make your departure easier, you can easily connect via the web that took over the world. Here are the best apps we selected for that.

Six Apps to Bring You Together from Afar

We have found six popular apps that will help you see, hear, read and even feel each other at any distance. Some of them are extremely popular; others are kind of exotic. But all of them can help you stay close when apart.

Skype

Skype screen

It’s the classical app for voice and video calls, now owned by Microsoft and included into Microsoft Office (in its business version). What makes Skype a good option for lovers? First of all, it’s voice and video calls, providing a sort of presence with its HD video and HQ voice. Second, it’s is subscription. Even when one of you is overseas, Skype lets you make calls to regular landline or mobile phone numbers when your partner is offline. It only takes an Office 365 subscription. Even the basic option includes 60 mines of Skype Out.

Instagram

Instagram app

We all know, it’s the app for publishing your pics, polishing them with filters, and then exposing them to the whole world, right? It’s also owned by Facebook, so it’s popular and subject to strict censorship. But Insta is much more than this. First of all, there are Stories, the ephemeral chronicles of your days. You can charge them with meanings and messages only someone special can understand. Second, it has a private message system, so you can send each other the pictures not meant for publishing. 

And, in addition, it’s so sweet to tell the world something meant just for one person, so others will only understand how close you are to each other to read otherwise unreadable. Anyway, Instagram is for showing off your happiness, so show off your love… as much as it doesn’t touch the very heart you save for the two of you.

WhatsApp

Whatsup app

And another app by Facebook hurries to the rescue when you’re half a world away. It brings you free unlimited texting, voice and video calls, and it’s not too sensible for connection quality. So even one of you is somewhere in the wild, where the Internet is a luxury, you won’t need much of it to send a message, a picture, a short video, or your location. It’s strange to recommend this app as it’s already one of the most popular in the world; it’s rather a reminder to keep in touch.

Spokeo

Spokeo screen

This app should have been named first, as it’s a great investigation tool. You only need to enter the phone number into the special field, and the service reports you everything about public activities of the phone’s owner.

No doubt this service only uses open source data and works legally, otherwise, it wouldn’t be available. It can seem immoral to spy over your partner like this; well, then don’t. But you may need to know. Or at least warn each other that you’ll mutually spy over Spokeo, to feel like you’re doing all these activities side by side. Alas, Spokeo is little help (or none at all), when one of the two temporarily (or constantly) lives outside the US.

SnapChat

Snapchat screen

The greatest thing about Snapchat when it comes to relationship is its privacy. Send each other your photos and don’t be afraid they may leak out. Just don’t forget about self-destruction timer.

We don’t mean only explicit pics, though we understand how much they can matter when physical touch is impossible. These little stupid pics or videos with Snapchat filters and masks can be much more compromising. And this makes Snapchat a sort of test: if you both really enjoy these stupid moments with dog ears and noses, crowns and clowns, and your faces mutually swapped, then you really fit each other.

Telegram

Telegram app

It’s a good messenger, but most of its messaging features copy those of WhatsApp, and the unique ones (like public channels and advanced encryption) seem to have nothing in common with our subject … Oh yes, they suddenly have. Encryption, you say! Yes, that’s what makes chatting in Telegram feel more secure, so you can share your deepest feelings and thoughts. 

What Telegram cannot do is video calls, and the developers say they don’t have the slightest intention to implement them. But you can have Skype or WhatsApp for your regular video calls, and Snapchat to make them really crazy with filters and stickers.

Keep Closer!

Well, there are other ways, in addition to these above. If both of you have Apple Watch, then you can even send touches to each other, with haptic responses, and use an online walkie-talkie. And if you know each other’s offline addresses (and why not?), then use the traditional postal delivery to send each other physical gifts and paper letters. Because nothing digital gets as personal than a handwritten paper letter. Even if you write an email with your own hand and a hi-tech stylus on your touchscreen, it shares the same handwriting and signature but not the warmth.

We left uncovered services like iMessage or Facebook Messenger, partly because they are bound to hardware (no iPhone – no iMessage), partly because they just duplicate the other apps. And if you feel your conversations lack visual emotions, you can connect one of the third-party emoji packs to heart, kiss, pair, dance, moon, and sun each other, or whatever you feel special about. But remember: your love and feelings are primary, and the apps just help it.

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WhatsApp Alternatives: Our Top Picks

So, you decided to find an alternative for WhatsApp. Maybe you’re too worried about Facebook’s privacy policy. Or you just don’t like the way it works. Or you drop it for your own reasons.

Here are the alternative apps you can have on your phone for communicating. All of them are cross-platform and compatible with your PC as well as with iPhone or Android devices. So, select what’s the most attractive to you.

And remember: even the best messenger is no good if your contacts aren’t in. So, you better check several alternatives and see what your contact list looks like in each.

Signal: The Safest

Signal app screen

Signal is an open-source cross-platform messenger, developed by a group of enthusiasts and distributed for non-profit reasons. Its source code is always published on GitHub, so everyone competent enough can check it and report bugs, vulnerabilities or backdoors if any of them is found.

The killer feature of Signal is security. Its encryption system is rated as the most secure of all the messengers available. 

As for features, Signal has exactly what a modern messenger should have. Its primary identifier is your phone number. After confirmation and authentication, you can make voice and video calls and send messages and files to other Signal contacts. Exactly like you do in WhatsApp.

Is it that perfect substitute? In fact, not, unless you persuade all your contacts to switch to Signal, or at least install it as a second messenger. For that you can just send invitations from Signal as regular SMS.

Pro: secure.
Con: not so popular.

Viber: The Richest in Stickers

Viber screen

If you mostly communicate informally and emotionally, you probably like sending and receiving all those graphic smiles, kisses, flowers, thumbs up, and the big stickers showing that regular emoji aren’t expressive enough. Then here comes Viber by Rakuten.

In fact, this messenger has all the features of WhatsApp. It supports unlimited texting, sending pictures and locations, video and voice calls, group chats, and even built-in games. And it’s quite popular: there are few countries listing it as #1, but almost all over the world it’s in the Top 5. 

But the most distinct feature of Viber is its treasury of stickers and emoji. You can select pets, cartoon characters, popular mascots, and characters invented on purpose, to express your emotions. Even paid ones can be available for free if sponsored, or as a reward for active communication.

Pro: the most emotional messenger.
Con: but once you get locked into a serious sticker collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.

Telegram: The Most Social… and The Most Controversial

Telegram screen

In fact, Telegram is more than a messenger: it’s a text-centric messaging and blogging app, two-in-one. The messaging part of Telegram is familiar, with one useful exception: you can send messages to yourself as well. A useful feature when you need to transfer a picture or some text between your devices. On the other hand, Telegram has no video calls and no plans for that.

As for the blogging part, you can create a public channel with your account and post anything you want. So far your posts can only be read, but the team is working on implementing comments. The rumor has it that Telegram is to introduce its own cryptocurrency soon.

Security features include end-to-end encryption and possibility to hide your phone number; but still those who have it will see it connected to your account.

Pro: secure and social.
Con: no video calls.

GroupMe: For More Than Two

GroupMe screen

Of course, this app by Microsoft can be used for private communication, but rather it’s a tool for creating group chats (just like it says on the tin). It also supports sending pictures, locations, links and all the types of data regularly shared in groups.

You can use your Microsoft or Facebook accounts to log in or create an independent account with your email. Still, it needs to access your phone book and fetch the contacts from there. 

Pro: great for group chats at work and at your party.
Con: it can’t replace your WhatsApp experience.

LINE: Orientally Oriented

LINE screen

If you want something resembling WhatsApp up to the color of the logo, here comes LINE. It’s a messenger with functionality very similar to all the messengers like WhatsApp. It also needs your phone number as an ID and your phone book as the base to fetch your LINE contacts.

Though LINE is mostly popular in East Asia (Japan, South Korea), but also it has its fans in America and Middle East. If you communicate with friends or colleagues from these Asian countries, you’ll access them easier, and they’ll appreciate.

Pro: all the features of a modern messenger, useful for contacts with Asia.
Con: not as popular in the rest of the world.

The Ones Behind

There are other messaging apps (or rather services) also worth attention, at least in one sentence. Some of them are only popular locally; say, WeChat is mostly used in China, IMO in Central Asia, and KakaoTalk in South Korea. Google Hangouts, formally sharing the same functionality, didn’t get as popular; as for iMessage, it only works with Apple devices.
We skipped Facebook Messenger too, because, being too an obvious alternative, it shares one thing with WhatsApp: it’s controlled by Facebook. As far as we know, concerns about Facebook’s privacy policy is one of the main reasons why people give up WhatsApp.

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