This week, we tasked our colleague Tony McGovern to check out some of the more widely used communication Apps. Here’s what Tony had to say!

Communication used to be a simple process. You would walk up to a person and talk to them. This has evolved into the form of sending and receiving letters and fax. Remember fax machines? No?

Emails have further evolvement communications. Now, communications are far more complex! Everyone and their Aunt has several different Apps they regularly use to communicate with different parties, friends, family, work colleagues, etc.

Let’s look at some of these Apps.

Messenger (M) and WhatsApp (W)

Messenger and WhatsApp are two Apps owned by Facebook but come as standalone Apps. Both are available online.

WhatsApp is a service based solely on communication from the beginning, there are no Ads (a rarity in this day and age). This is efficient and you are not in any danger of wasting time on this App. Well, not much anyway.

As we have bundled Messenger and WhatsApp together, assume all pros and cons relate to both unless labelled with [M] (Messenger) or [W] (WhatsApp). In which case, the pro or con relates to that individual App.

Pros
  • Users can communicate with videos, audio, and text.
  • Group calls and chats are available.
  • Information is stored online. You don’t have to worry about changing phones, just download the App and log in.
  • All your contact info and previous conversations are good to go.
  • It is extremely easy to send files and images.
  • You don’t need someone’s personal info (like their everchanging phone number), simply have them as a friend on Facebook or search for them and send them a message. [M]
  • All your contact info and previous conversations are good to go provided your phone set to sync the info, (it may back up daily or every few weeks, you can change the settings). [W]
Cons
  • You can see which friends are online (and they can see if you are online too). You can also see who has read sent messages. This may lead to some awkward conversations.
  • You can view friends’ stories and play games (the games feature is on its way out of messenger and will only be available on Facebook). [M]
  • You must have internet connection for this service to work.
  • If you wish to use the Web version you need to scan a QR code, something not everyone can do or knows how to do with their phones. [W]
  • You need to have a persons phone number to communicate with them. [W]
  • WhatsApp groups have admin privileges. Whoever created the group chat has more power and they can add other people to the chat. Admin privileges can be transferred. [W]
SnapChat

SnapChat is a smartphone App which focuses on the concept “a single image is worth a thousand words”.

Pros
  • SnapChat is a great App for sharing experiences using quick photos and videos. There are text and filters which can be applied to videos and photos to make them more exciting.
  • You can be mysterious or transparent with your communication.
  • The SnapChat service allows calls via video and audio as well as sending text and stickers.
  • It links to a Bitmoji service for personalized emojis.
  • You can view stories from friends and follow influencers and shows that use snapchat as well.
  • Texts can disappear after viewing, making this a great space for friendly conversations.
  • Conversation threads quickly disappear. This keeps communication threads of texts and snaps light.
Cons
  • SnapChat unfortunately links to the phrase “blink and you’ll miss it”.
  • Sometimes Snaps can be short. If images include text, hopefully you can read and understand it before it disappears.
  • When using SnapChat pay attention as messages disappear once viewed. Depending on the timeline of replies, you may forget the context of the chat.
  • You can change the settings to make the texts stay visible for slightly longer.
  • Connecting with people can get complicated. You may need to know their username or scan a QR code to find the person’s account.
  • When screen capturing images, the person who sent the snap will be notified of the capture.
  • SnapChat has a feature using the map service. This shows where you are at all times on the map and uses your avatar to show the location. If you value your privacy make sure this feature is turned off and you are in ghost mode or deny it access in the settings.
  • You need internet connection to use this service.

Whilst Messenger, WhatsApp and SnapChat are all free communications Apps, there are several other social media Apps whilst not used solely for communication but do have their own chat services. Some of these social media Apps include: Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr to name a few.

Other Chat Apps are available. These include We Chat, Viber, Slack, etc. It comes down to what you (and your friends) are happy to use.

Using these services don’t require real-time interactions. Like email, messages can be sent at your convenience and read when it suits the recipient.

Summary

To conclude, these Apps allow for additional media (video / audio) to be sent over the internet rather than by traditional phone messaging services. The Apps are free. They save money and time as you can send an item to many users. It is of course crucial that recipients are using the same Apps to receive the information.

You can stay in touch with your nearest and dearest and these services can be interactive, i.e., two-way communication. Alternatively, communications can be broadcasts or informative. This makes communications a little more formal.

Do exercise good practice when setting up groups. Ensure people:

  • want to be part of the group
  • have given permission for their details to be shared [W]
  • consider what you are sending and it’s appropriateness (this depends on the recipient / group type)

In the main time, have fun and chat among yourselves. Stay connected.


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