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What app instead of WhatsApp?

Users consider other applications in light of recent shortage and concerns over privacy after the Facebook purchase

Published: Updated:

The internet was abuzz Saturday night with grumbles by WhatsApp’s 450 million global users, complaining that the service was down.

The official Twitter account of the messenger application was notably silent over the outage, with many users claiming the atypical service failure was related to the application’s recent acquisition by Facebook.

Users unhappy with their Saturday service shutdown can look no further than WhatsApp’s burgeoning competitors, among the most popular choices are:

Line

Line, a subsidiary of South Korea’s online content and search company Naver Corporation, is WhatsApp’s biggest competitor. The messaging app lets users send text messages, images, video and audio, was well as make phone calls over the internet or video conference.

The Line messaging app is available on almost all mobile platforms, including Windows, OS X, the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Nokia’s Asha and even Firefox OS.

Line is only 100 million users behind WhatsApp with nearly 350 million users globally, a rapid expansion from the modest ten million it started with in December 2011.

Kik

Another messaging app alternative is Kik Messenger, a service that lets users send texts, images and voice messages over a smartphone’s data connection, allowing downloaders to use the service without messaging charges or even a mobile number.

The app is different in that it has an integrated web browser, allowing users to browse content and share it directly with their friends. Available on a multi-platform basis, it currently has 100 million global users.

Viber

Viber initially marketed itself as a Skype alternative by offering free voice calling. It has now expanded into a cross-platform messenger service that is available on mobiles as well as on desktops.

All users can send text, pictures and video messages using Viber, but voice calling and some other features are limited to the iPhone, Android and Windows Phone.

The app also lets allows calls to non-Viber users for 1.9 cents a minute via Viber Out.

Wary of the ‘Big Brother’ Facebook

While tech-savvy users are seeking a messenger alternative after the app’s Saturday black out, others are switching services over their disenchantment by the recent purchasing of the application by Facebook.

Concerns about the social media titan taking over their favorite messaging service are merited, claims a German data protection commissioner, PCworld.com reported.

The deal has raised potential problems with data protection, as the personal information of WhatsApp users will now be merged with the Facebook’s data, said Thilo Wecihert, data protection commissioner for the German state of Schleswig-Holstein.

WhatsApp, however, said in a blog post on Wednesday ”nothing” will change for users.

The company states in its privacy policy that it will not sell or share personally identifiable information such as mobile phone numbers with third-party companies for their commercial or marketing use without consent. But it may share that information with third party service providers “to the extent that it is reasonably necessary to perform, improve or maintain the WhatsApp Service.”

Despite the messenger app’s assurances, Weichert points out that both companies are based in the United States, where data protection laws are less strict than in Europe.

He also added that the services “refuse to comply with European and German data protection requirements.”

Those circumspect regarding the privacy of their personal information can switch to Telegram or Surespot, encrypted messenger services similar to WhatsApp.

While the interface of the app is similar to WhatsApp, Telegram employs end to end encryption, self-destructing messages and Secure Chats.

Ensuring users don’t return to Telegram’s less secure counterparts, the service also makes sure users can transfer files (including videos), participate in group chats with up to 200 participants, and availability of the ever popular emojis.

Surespot, another encrypted messenger service, also allows voice messages sent over the application to be encrypted. Users can even delete messages and media files off of friends’ devices.

Both applications are free, uncluttered with ads and function on multiple platforms.