Worldwide messaging apps simplify global communication

January 15, 2016 — by Julia Miller and Claire Rhee

As many users replace traditional messaging apps with messaging apps that offer free international texting and calling, American favorites such as iMessage may begin to lose popularity. 

As many users replace traditional messaging apps with messaging apps that offer free international texting and calling, American favorites such as iMessage may begin to lose popularity.

Some of these apps include Kakaotalk, WhatsApp, Line and WeChat.

In recent years, a growing proportion of Asian-Americans have begun using such apps because it costs money to text or send voice messages on iMessage to people who are not in the country.

In contrast, the app Kakaotalk offers free messaging and video calling with an unlimited number of people. Users can also use voice filters and emoticon stickers and send voice notes and share their location with their friends.

“I use Kakaotalk with some of my Korean friends and others who live in Korea,” freshman Thomas Lim said. “It’s very usable and similar to [iMessage].”

In addition to Kakaotalk, Line is widely used by many in Taiwan, Japan and other neighboring countries. Like Kakaotalk, Line allows its users to create accounts where they can add lists of interests and preferences to their profiles in order to receive coupons and updates relevant to their likes.  

“I personally use [Line] to communicate with people who I don’t see on a regular basis [in order] to keep in touch with them,” junior Laura Makeever said. “I think the general population uses these apps for quick and easy communication, [and] the stickers are cute [too].”

In China, the government firewall blocks out certain social media platforms, such as Facebook and Snapchat. Because of this, sophomore Eleanor Goh said Chinese-Americans typically message relatives or friends in China on WeChat, while Line is mostly used to maintain contact with those in Taiwan.

“I started using [WeChat] after attending a summer camp in Seattle, where [I met] many foreign students from China and Korea,” Goh said. “With WeChat, I am able to send text[s], images and video[s] to my friends in China.”

According to statista.com, in the third quarter of 2015, WeChat had 650 million monthly active users, Line had 212 million and Kakaotalk had 48 million. According to Mac Rumors, iMessage now only has 500 million.

In addition, while Kakaotalk, Line, WeChat and WhatsApp can be used for multiple different types of phones, iMessage is only accessible to those with an Apple iPhone, which limits its user base.

In time, these apps may come to dominate the worldwide messaging scene, helping build connections that even firewalls can’t keep out.

 
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