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If SMS and MMS were preferred ways of getting your message across to loved ones without calling them, then a horde of apps that you can download for free or a small fee do this on smartphones.

However, the only requirement is that your smartphone buddy should also use the same apps that you do! It is therefore a good idea to discuss with your friends about the apps that best work with them and go ahead installing them on your smartphone. This will save you not only from the time taken to install many apps and make sure that you have enough space in your device for other utility apps as well. Messaging apps not only help in ordinary message and video chats with a single person, but also helps you be part of a group chat. Added to this is the fact that most of these apps do not make you incur heavy data charges. Check out some interesting apps here that are applicable to almost all smartphone platforms.

WhatsApp (Android, Blackberry, Windows, iOS)

This app actually needs no introduction and is sure to find a place in the handset of any smartphone user. Free for the first year, you have to pay a very nominal fee for uninterrupted use after a year. Group chats, voice calls and voice messages are some key highlights apart from the normal messages. You can also share your favorite videos and pictures with this app.  Comprising a simple layout, WhatsApp is very easy to use among all age groups. In other words, you do not have to be tech savvy to master this app. Various updates are being made periodically to this app to give you the best possible features. You even get notifications of your messages being delivered and read.

GroupMe(Android, Windows, iOS)

Looking for an app that will help you with only group messages? Of course, there are many apps that offer this as one of their exciting features. What makes GroupMe stand out is that this app focuses on just this activity alone. Again quite simple to use, you can share texts, videos, emoticons and images with this app. However, the drawback is that you cannot use this app to make or receive calls. To compensate for this, the app allows you to take charge of the notifications you receive. You can mute a group if you do not want to be informed of notifications from it. Also, leaving or entering a group is completely under your control.

Viber (Android, Blackberry, Windows, iOS)

In many ways, Viber will appear to be a duplicate version of WhatsApp. This is primarily because the app allows you to do almost (if not all) anything that you do with WhatsApp. However to know what is different, you must try out the Viber Out feature. This functionality allows you to make calls across the globe to landline numbers and mobile numbers not registered with the app for a fee.

Skype(Android, Blackberry, Windows, iOS)

This has for long been a favorite means of sending/receiving messages and voice calls through a computer. After gaining immense popularity in this arena, Microsoft ventured into creating an app for this messenger. If you have decided to get this app installed on your smartphone, consider reading in detail about Skype Credits. This will come in handy if you are thinking of using the free Skype app to make a phone call irrespective of if it is a landline number or a mobile number.

Facebook Messenger(Android, Windows, iOS)

If you find yourself hooked to Facebook to keep in touch with your friends, we are almost sure that the Facebook Messenger app will play a key role on your smartphone. Interestingly, your friends who are not on the apps will still receive your messages through the main Facebook app. Chat heads that pop out during conversations can be quite helpful to carry out and keep track of your conversations even as you are working on some other app.

eBuddy(Android, Blackberry, Windows, iOS)

Are you looking for a simple way to get all your pals across messengers in one place? If so, look no further with eBuddy all out to help you. Access your MSN, Yahoo!, Facebook Messenger, AIM, Gtalk and MySpace contacts with just eBuddy. Initially linked with a few selected messengers, once you are logged on, you can link more networks. While it does not appear to support calling facility, you can send texts, emoticons, images and across to any contact on any network.