Best iMessage alternatives for Android in 2019

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We've been asking for it for years, a pipedream that may never come true, but a fleeting bit of hope we continue to hold onto despite...

We've been asking for it for years, a pipedream that may never come true, but a fleeting bit of hope we continue to hold onto despite everyone telling us to let go. iMessage for Android. Chances are Apple never releases an Android app for its immensely successful messaging service, so whether you're giving up hope or want something to use in the interim while you endlessly wait, here are a few iMessage alternatives for Android that we think will do a good job at filling the blue bubble-shaped void in your heart.

Does it all

Facebook Messenger

Staff Favorite

For most people, Facebook Messenger is the best available alternative to iMessage. All of the features you could ask for, such as group chats, free video calls, and messaging over Wi-Fi are here. Plus, since Messenger's tied to Facebook, chances are most of your friends are already using it.

Free at Google Play

Solid alternative

WhatsApp

In certain parts of the world, WhatsApp is the messaging app to get. It has a lot of the same features that Facebook Messenger does and is tied to your phone number. Group chats, video/audio calls, high-quality image sending, and everything else is all here.

Free at Google Play

Reinventing texting

Google Messages

While this is technically a regular texting app, Google's "Chat" platform for it is now live. If you have a phone and wireless carrier that support RCS, Google Messages gains a lot of the popular iMessage features — including read receipts, group chats, messaging over Wi-Fi, and more.

Free at Google Play

All about security

Signal

We live in a world where digital privacy is becoming an increasingly important topic, and as such, it makes sense to use a messaging app that's designed to keep your data safe/secure. Signal is completely open source, messages are end-to-end encrypted, and you can have conversations automatically deleted after a certain amount of time.

Free at Google Play

iMessage on Android

AirMessage

Want real, legit iMessages on your Android phone? If you have a Mac and a bit of technical know-how, you can actually make that a reality with AirMessage. The setup process is a bit intensive, but if you get everything working, it's the only solution you'll ever need.

Free at Google Play

Facebook Messenger is our top recommendation

Facebook (rightfully) gets a lot of flak for its mishandling of user data, but despite that, its Messenger app remains as one of our top recommendations for people looking for an easy-to-use and fully-featured multi-platform messaging app.

You can message people individually or create group chats, make free audio and video calls, post to your Facebook Story, and even play games like Words With Friends. There's a fair amount of bloat tucked away in Messenger if you go digging, but following a big redesign to the app in late 2018, it looks a lot cleaner and is a whole lot more user-friendly.

While you don't technically need a Facebook account to use Messenger, having one does make life a bit easier. It allows you to find people to message just by searching for them on Facebook (making phone numbers a thing of the past) and having access to messages across all your devices.

If you want a powerful messaging app that most of your friends/family probably already have an account for, Facebook Messenger is more than likely your best bet.

Download: Facebook Messenger (free)

Google Messages is great (if your phone and carrier support RCS)

If you have an Android phone, chances are you already have Google Messages.

Also referred to as simply "Messages", this is Google's own SMS app that comes preinstalled on a lot of Android phones. However, the company's doing a lot of work behind the scenes to turn it into a proper iMessage competitor.

Harnessing the power of RCS (the new texting standard that's gradually replacing SMS), Messages can provide things like read receipts, high-quality image sharing, proper group chats, and more. These features are technically available now, but they require you to have 1) a phone that supports RCS and 2) your carrier to support RCS.

As of right now, those things are few and far between.

Anyone using Messages can send GIFs, real-time location, voice messages, Google Pay payments, and chat on a desktop using Google's web client, but if you and the people you're talking to don't have RCS support on your phone and carrier, all of this is still handled using old-fashioned SMS. The biggest downside to that? If you don't have reliable coverage with your carrier, you won't be able to message using Wi-Fi/data.

Google Messages has the potential to be a really exciting platform for Android users down the road, but for the time being, it's still in an awkward transitional period.

Download: Google Messages (free)

AirMessage brings iMessage to your Android phone — seriously

Our last pick, AirMessage, is certainly the most unique option on the list. Instead of being its own messaging app, AirMessage is actually a way to get real, legit iMessage conversations on your Android phone.

Here's how this works.

Assuming you have a computer running macOS, you'll need to install the AirMessage server onto it, launch it, get everything configured, and then enable port forwarding on your router. Once that's all done, you download the AirMessage app on your Android phone, log into your account, and you should have access to iMessage!

Once everything's up and working, AirMessage works pretty much exactly how iMessage does. You can talk in group chats, send pictures/videos, see when people read your messages, and still get iMessage's stunning effects. AirMessage even offers some exclusive features like custom colors for people in a group chat and a dark theme for the entire app.

Getting everything working will take some time and a bit of technical know-how, but once you figure it out, you'll be in for a real treat.

Download: AirMessage (free)



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