How do you talk to your friends when you’re not with them? If you’re from the US, you probably answered “texting” or “Facebook Messenger”. Interestingly enough, though, that is a VERY American response, and is likely to change based on whom you ask. The most used messaging app in the world is WhatsApp, a free, text-based app that also offers stickers, video-, and voice-calls. It’s also owned by Facebook, but that wasn’t always the case.
WeChat is most commonly used in China, as it was designed specifically for their country’s firewall. South Korea prefers Kakao Talk, Japan loves LINE, and Eastern Europeans generally opt for Viber.
The next time you meet your Tandem partner, ask them which app they prefer to use. The answer might surprise you.
WhatsApp: WhatsApp was developed by former Yahoo employees, and is now owned by Facebook. It offers texting, voice calls, video calls, group chats, stickers, and GIFs. WhatsApp is the most popular chatting app in the world, However, it’s currently banned in China, Iran, and Uganda.
WeChat: WeChat is used almost exclusively in China and by Chinese living abroad. It offers many services, such as texting, voice calls, video calls, services (booking appointments, transport, payment), friend seek (to find new friends), and a heat map. Interestingly, the app is censored, so users used to receive a reply stating that a message contains banned words, and therefore cannot be sent. Now, this only applies to Chinese users, and users may not be told when their message isn’t sent.
Kakao Talk: Kakao talk is incredibly popular in South Korea, offering texting, voice calls, video calls, chatrooms, the option of following celebrities, product purchasing, fun backgrounds, custom stickers, and payment services. The app is particularly beloved due to its adorable stickers and cute tones.
LINE: LINE offers texting, voice calls, video calls, taxi service, payment service, news, shopping, games, and food delivery. It was originally designed to help people communicate after a devastating earthquake hit Japan in 2011. LINE, like Kakao Talk, is well-known for its sticker sets, as well as its inclusion in many TV series and dramas.
Viber: Viber was created in Tel Aviv, Israel. It was created for voice calling, but expanded to add voice messaging, texting, group calls, and brand accounts as well.