Message–In!

People are increasingly circumventing their phone’s standard text messaging option for one of the many messaging apps now available—such as WhatsApp, Viber, Line and Kik. These apps all try to promise something that the standard SMS message can’t, whether that is more security, free messages that don’t go through your phone’s carrier, or some other special feature (such as video messages or anonymity).

Facebook is one company betting big on this trend: The social media giant recently purchased WhatsApp, one of the most popular messaging apps with more than 450 million users, for $19 billion dollars. And the options for alternative messaging seekers just keep growing as more apps continue to flood the market. Four of the latest messaging apps to become available all boast their own unique twist.

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Chatwala

Free on Apple & Android devices

This video chat messenger aims to create the feel of a face-to-face conversation that can be spread out over time—and at your convenience. While there are other video messaging apps available, Chatwala actually records your friends’ reactions as they watch the video. Then when your friends record and send back their response you can watch both their reaction and message.

Whisp

Free online and on the iPad

Whisp brings a communal feel to online shopping. Users can browse thousands of brands from 21 retailers (including Urban Outfitters, Givenchy, Lane Crawford and Isabel Marant) and drag and drop the items they like onto Facebook or private chats called “Whisps.” Not only can you discuss the items, but you also can use fashion emoticons to express your opinion when it requires more than just words.

Confide

Free on Apple devices

Feel like a secret agent with Confide, as all of your messages will self-destruct after they are read. The purpose behind this app is to let you send honest, unfiltered and off the record messages that will only be seen by the person they are intended for. The app also offers screenshot protection as each word is concealed and can only be revealed when someone swipes over it.

FireChat

Free on Apple devices

This app lets you chat with people even if you are off the grid somewhere (say the beach, subway or even a trade show) without any Internet connection or mobile coverage. FireChat works by using iOS 7’s Multipeer Connectivity Framework technology to connect nearby phones (approx. 30 feet) to each other in a localized network. It is also possible to send messages over a longer range, by bouncing from one nearby phone to the next until the message reaches its destination.

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