November 2023 Meeting Topic
Text messaging of various types has become very popular since the beginning of mobile phones. The popularity of chat apps has really taken off with additional features such as group chat, photos, and audio and video chat.
The line between Chat Apps and social media such as Twitter (X), has become blurred as more features are added.
Popular Chat Apps
- Messages/FaceTime (Apple)
- WhatsApp Messenger
- Messenger (Meta/Facebook)
- Google Chat
Why Choose A Particular App?
Convenience: Messages is built into your Apple products. It’s easy to use. There may be no reason to change, especially if your friends use Apple devices also.
Security and Privacy: Signal is your best choice for absolute security, with end-to-end encryption, a security-focused company, and publicly reviewed code. Apple’s Messages is also very secure, but perhaps less so against governments. The Signal protocol has also been adopted by WhatsApp and Google Messages (on Android).
International Travel: WhatsApp is popular overseas and with travelers. You can use WhatsApp with an international data plan. Since it does not use conventional SMS text messaging, you won’t get charged for the texts. WeChat is nearly universal in China and the far east. It is widely used for checkout and payments as well as messaging. Telegram is popular in India, Asia, Africa and parts of Europe.
- Group Chat
- Audio/Video Chat
- Broadcast to large group
- Stickers, emojis, reactions
- File Transfer
- Document Sharing/Team Collaboration
- Send money
Under the Hood
The original text messaging protocol was SMS (Simple Messaging System). You’re probably still using SMS if you exchange messages with non-iPhone users (probably Android). SMS has a 160 character limit for each message. MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) is an extension of SMS which allows “texting” of photos and videos (Low-resolution). SMS and MMS messages count as “text messaging” on your cellular plan, and do not use your data plan.
RCS (Rich Communication Services) is a more modern protocol widely used on Android phones. Apple has announced that its Messages App will be compatible with RCS beginning sometime in 2024. RCS messages use cellular data (or WiFi) (not “texts”). However, none of the chat App protocols will probably make a significant dent in your cellular data usage. When RCS is available in Messages, Apple users and their Android friends will see an improvement in the quality of photos and videos sent and received.
The other Chat Apps are each using their own protocols to exchange messages using Internet data over cellular or WiFi. The quantity of data used is probably insignificant.