5 Best Chat Alternatives in 2021
⏱ Reading Time: 9 minutes
Sometimes chat isn’t the best way to go so we have made a list of the best chat alternatives from which you can choose the one best suited for you! As the world shifts into remote working styles, the need for better communication strategies and tools is increasing rapidly. There are many ways to bridge the communication gaps; video conferencing, emails, online meetings, and chatting.
Though email has been reigning the working culture from its inception, now it is starting to diminish. As businesses scale rapidly, they need communication tools that provide real-time features. Important decisions might be withheld due to late delivery or not opening emails. Mails have a cumbersome problem with them. They sometimes get filtered out as spam. In this situation, the email is delivered but is not visible directly to the intended recipient.
Video-conferencing and online meetings were introduced to overcome this problem, but they too fail sometimes. Video-conferencing is a real-time solution, and sometimes, when business teams are working from different regions, there might arise a problem for availability. To overcome all these problems associated with prevalent forms, the chat was introduced.
What is Chat?
Chat is a new way of communication that enables the parties involved to communicate on a real-time basis or live. Chatting is the process of interacting with people with a purpose, whether it is work-related or personal. It is the most effective way to interact with people in remote working scenarios, as this helps people be available all the time, and they can also respond whenever they are free.
Companies, as well as individuals, are rapidly shifting towards chatting applications and reaching out to chatbot development companies. An estimate states that almost 41 million messages are transferred every minute on the internet. Of course, it is not easy to reach such a significant volume and popularity without providing advantages, so here are some advantages of chat.
Picture 1. Communication finds a way!
Advantages of Chat Applications
Chat applications are very cost-effective. Compared to other mediums of communication like video-conferencing and phone calls, chat apps are quite cheap. Moreover, most chat applications in the market are free, thus making it the cheapest communication medium.
Unlike video-conferencing, where every participant needs to be present in real-time, chat applications are different. Anyone can send the message at any time, and the message will be available to the intended receiver forever. In addition, chat apps help people keep things and tasks in mind as they can easily reference them whenever needed.
Chatting can be done whenever and wherever. While chatting, the person can watch videos, surf the internet, or also do their work. Chatting is efficient as it does not entirely block the person’s time. Multitasking while chatting is the norm. Everyone does this. Moreover, it is easier to multitask while chatting than any other communication medium.
What are The Things You Should Look For in a Chat app?
If you are a business that is shifting towards remote working policies, it is crucial to have good communication tools as only these will help you achieve your goals when the team is away from each other. Here are certain things that you should look for when choosing the right chat app for your organization.
Enable Audio and Video Chat Features
The added support of audio and video chat features in a chat app is like icing on a cake. This makes the app an allrounder, and it can then cater to a broader spectrum of audiences. If you need to explain something important, there is no better way than audio and video chat, as it is proven that humans retain information more when heard or seen. Thus having this feature in your chat app is very important. In addition, almost all applications that are commercially used employ this feature.
The main aim of choosing any chat application is to increase the collaboration between the team. Only better collaboration can help businesses achieve their goals. Chat apps that are focused on business use have many features that help increase collaboration. With features like pinning conversations, one-click file sharing, and easy integration with other business apps, chat apps indeed make working in a team easy.
While working in a company, there may arise times when you want to include only a specific group of people. This is where classifying and organizing conversations is essential. Team chat apps help people create channels and closed groups that can be accessed by authorized persons only. This way, you can also deploy security at the most negligible levels, making your files and other information secure. Moreover, classifying also helps you to group conversations according to their topics and importance.
As we have seen, what are the benefits of chatting and what should be included in an ideal chat app, now it’s time to look at the best chat alternatives available in 2021!
Picture 2. Chat apps help people create channels that can be accessed by authorized persons only
1. Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams are the best choice for a large organization. This is all-in-one chat application for organizations that want to have all their employees on the same platform.
For large firms who have been using office 365 combos for a long time, teams is the best chat app. In addition, Microsoft has developed teams, which means that it is effortless to use and integrate with all other Microsoft products.
One of the most valuable parts of Microsoft Teams is collaboration. Working with a bunch of people on the same document has never been so easy before. Once a document is created and shared, anyone on the team with the correct permissions can work on it. This makes it easy to keep the whole team of employees in sync and productive.
Giant IT companies utilize Microsoft Teams. Because it helps to break down employees into smaller teams that work on the same project. It also supports sending broadcast messages that are highly useful to inform the employees about any event or change that will take place.
Also, it lets employees share their screens in real-time to make things easier while they are in the meeting. Moreover, teams also let their users schedule meetings and add them to their calendars too so that everyone is available in the meeting.
Picture 3. Microsoft Teams best feature is easy collaboration
If you are looking for a free chat application available across all platforms, this is your pick. Slack was launched in 2013, and since then, it has been the first choice of every small team.
Slack is a great communication tool with advanced facilities that make chatting and collaboration across teams relatively easy. In addition, Slack offers a simple UI and UX that can be understood easily. Moreover, setting up Slack is also very easy. Smaller teams love slack because of the informal vibe it creates between employees. Features like channels, easy replies to specific messages, emojis, and crisp video and audio calling features make Slack inevitable. Slack has two versions: a free version and another is a premium paid version. The free version allows unlimited users in the team but places a limitation of 10k message history. Messages after that threshold will get deleted automatically, making space for newer messages to come in.
Using the free version, the team cannot have a conference call; only one-to-one calls are allowed. However, if your team is highly active and constantly engaged in meetings and discussions, the premium paid version might be ideal. The paid version starts at $8 per month per user, which is feasible when compared to the features offered by Slack.
Mattermost is an open-source chat application for organizations. Organizations who want to keep their data and messages to themselves can use this application. Mattermost allows its users/organizations to store data on their private servers and host the application. This feature is only available in the free and open-source version that is hosted on internal servers. Mattermost is an emerging chat application with features the same as Slack, even in the free version. However, even though you want to go with the paid version, this chat application is cheaper at $3.25 per user per month.
The UI and UX relate much with the world-renowned Slack. In Mattermost, you can search, sort, filter, create channels as per your needs. In addition, there are many third-party integrations available for Mattermost, taking the app user experience to a level above.
4. Google Chat
As Microsoft Teams is the best chat app for companies working with Microsoft applications, Google chat is the best chat app for companies using Google workspace. Google chat is a new and updated version of the Google Hangouts platform. While this application is not known by many, it is perhaps the best chat application to use if your team works in the Google ecosystem, utilizing Google workspace and other applications.
You can unleash the power of Google workspace by using Google chat that is completely free for existing workspace subscribers. Being backed by Google, this chat app gets plenty of third-party integrations to choose from. These integrations can be used to enhance the overall collaboration and usage experience.
Picture 4. If your company is using Google workspace then Google Chat is the way to go!
Signal is a different type of chat application. It is built with entirely different purposes and is only available on iOS and Android systems. However, Signal has seen high growth in active users lately because of the new privacy policies enforced by WhatsApp.
Signal is not a formal or business-oriented chat application, but it is a great application to use. If privacy and security are of utmost importance to you, then Signal will be your favorite. Signal uses highly secure end-to-end encryption standards to store and transfer messages between its users. As a result, using Signal is relatively easy, and it also offers a clear voice calling facility.
There are tons of chat alternatives in the market, and it is up to you to explore the rest. Though this list may not contain all chat applications, it is an amalgamation of the best chat applications available in 2021.
Find which one works best for you and your team! Good luck!
Harikrishna Kundariya, a marketer, developer, IoT, ChatBot & Blockchain savvy, designer, co-founder, Director of eSparkBiz Technologies. His 8+ experience enables him to provide digital solutions to new start-ups based on IoT and ChatBot.
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