It seems like students are always looking for a more private online location for their conversations these days. Developers are more than accommodating that thirst for privacy by developing messaging apps, many of which are not private at all. Here’s a look at some of the latest messaging apps. I’m sure there are others I have missed as they seem to pop up daily. Add them in the comments. You can click the name of the app for a description.
Chance: A hybrid of the defunct Just.me, which was a Tech Crunch product, is at the top of the list. If you thought Snapchat was a nightmare, meet its evil twin. Chance offers users, who just have to verify they are 17 or over, a chance to connect with random strangers all over the world with the mantra “take a chance.” Need I say more? And we all know how effective the age verification screens are.
Wut: This app bills itself as a semi-private chat app and joins the bulging group of text messaging apps that allow kids to bypass their text message limits (and parents’ eyes). Wut relies on an interface with your Facebook friends and can send a message to all your friends that have Wut. I know all these apps start to sound repetitive after a while, but this is basically Facebook messaging that goes out to everyone at once. Not on Android (yet).
Telegram: Another group messaging app that allows you to send messages up to 200 people at once. Images and video are allowed as well as text. The interesting thing about Telegram is that it is promoting itself as the “safest and fastest” messaging app out there. Their app description addresses several areas for people who are uneasy about messaging apps: security, reliability, privacy, and support. This app is available for both Android and iPhone.
Confide: An SMS-based Snapchat copy. Unlike Snapchat, it relies on your phone contacts and SMS service to contact recipients. When you enter a contact, you are prompted to load the app which allows for “secret messages” to be sent. The app requires you to swipe the screen to read a message. Once it’s read, it seems to disappear (from app description). The plus here, you need someone’s phone number or email to reach out initially.
Popcorn: I haven’t tested this app, but I have a cyber security problem with it anyway. First red flag is that location service has to be enabled to use. This app allows you to literally “text anyone within a mile.” Like an earlier app, Chirp, the only requirement is that receivers have the app open on their phone. Popcorn also allows users to “earn points” a la Foursquare for certain actions. Forbes ran an article on the app back in November 2013–an interview with the founder. It’s being pushed as a perfect app for dorm residents and sports events attenders. Their Facebook page has a download link for iPhone only so far. I think this is the only app in this group with mass potential.
Blink: Another Snapchat knock-off. Being fairly new, it has its set of glitches and bugs according to user reviews. As the wandering herd of teens and young adults look for places to hide out, apps like Blink may survive for a while, but mass appeal is unlikely.
Messaging apps continue to flood the iTunes store—some safe and secure, and some just not. It’s a good idea to keep on top of what is out there to be able to educate your students and children on where the dangers are. Test drive them and see for yourself!
[reminder]Is there an App that I missed? Please share it in the comments section below.[/reminder]