Messaging Apps

Lynn ZimmermannBy Lynn Zimmerman
Associate Editor
Editor, Teacher Education

In recent years, there has been a proliferation of messaging apps as more people use their phone and other mobile devices to communicate. In his March 19, 2019, article on the Motherboard website, Owen Williams asks, “Why Do We Need So Many Different Messaging Apps?” He poses this and other interesting questions about the variety of messaging apps that are available, who uses them, and how they are used.

I recently became interested in this question because, in the last few months, I’ve had to add What’s App and Telegram to my array of communication choices. I’ve always relied on email to communicate with friends and colleagues, occasionally using my texting function on my phone, Messenger on FaceBook, and Skype for messaging. Once I got my iPhone, this began to change. I started using iMessenger, which was on my phone. However, I couldn’t use it for international contacts, and I had a colleague in Albania who said she used Viber, so I downloaded it to IM with her about our project. 

Then, this past summer, a friend from Poland asked why I wasn’t using WhatsApp. So, I downloaded it and am now able to get messages easily from her and pictures of her and her family. I told my colleague in Spain that I was now on WhatsApp and she was thrilled to be able to communicate with me this way. Then, this fall, I was in Chad where I worked with young adults who are English club leaders. On the last day of our workshops, we talked about how to stay in touch, and they all said it has to be WhatsApp. That’s what everyone uses. So, now, we communicate individually on WhatsApp, and one of these enterprising young people even set up a group chat for us.

My next assignment, which is coming up in a couple of weeks, is in Uzbekistan. After connecting with my counterparts at the university through email, I was informed that everyone in Uzbekistan uses Telegram. No one emails or uses any other messaging app. I had never heard of Telegram, so after reading about it online, I downloaded it, and we are now connected.

I have to confess that I’m not too crazy about these apps as a primary mode of communication because I don’t like typing on my phone. It’s one thing if I’m out and about and need to look something up quickly or need to ask someone something that is brief, but some of my friends and colleagues send long messages. To my delight, I discovered that it was possible to download WhatsApp and Telegram to my laptop where I can use my keyboard rather than tap on my phone. That’s made using these apps much easier for me.

That’s my story about these apps. What’s yours?

One Response

  1. Lynn, thanks for a very enlightening tour of the texting landscape. The availability of notebook or desktop versions of some of these apps is good news. I haven’t mastered tapping out text with both thumbs on my iPhone. I poke at the screen keys one at a time with my index finger. A real keyboard would be a huge plus.

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