BlackBerry Messenger for iPhone and Android has been delayed, but there are plenty of other ways you can talk to your friends via instant messenger (IM) on your iPhone or Android device. Here are some of the very popular alternatives.
The big daddy of the IM pack and the most popular across all platforms, Whatsapp lets you send text, images, video and voice notes to your mates using your data connection rather than eating into your text message bundle. There's group chat for when you want to message loads of mates at the same time and there's no charge for sending the messages. You don't even have to have a PIN number like BBM, just a phone number to send a message. Chances are your friends are on it already.
One for the Apple faithful as it isn't available for Android. This is Apple's version of BBM and is baked into iOS. Send messages, video, pictures, but also take and make video and audio calls. The audio call feature is very good. The system works like Whatsapp using a data connection to work, but messages can be set to revert to SMS if a data connection can't be found.
Microsoft's instant messenger app that works for Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone and the desktop. The upside is that lots of people are on it and you can quickly carry on from where you left off on your computer (once all your messages have caught up) but it is a battery hog and not something you'll want to run in the background all the time. One great feature for travellers though is that you can use it to phone any number in the world from a Wi-Fi spot, handy if you want to avoid costly roaming charges.
Think of Viber as a Skype alternative and you would be on the right tracks. Like all the apps here you can text, send photos, videos, and voice messages, but you can also make audio calls and create and share doodles too. There's 200m users word wide according to the company so depending on how big your social circle is you might already have a bunch of friends using the service. Handy, as you can group message up to 40 people at a time from the app.
Everyone is on Facebook, so it makes sense to use Facebook Messenger to send messages, video, images and the like. Facebook Messenger is a dedicated app just for talking with friends so you don't have to get distracted by yet another picture of someone's kid, or your friends constant pictures from the beach in the sun. Handy, but you will have to make them a friend on Facebook and they or you might not want that. Sometimes it's nice to keep things separate.
Path is more a social network than a straightforward messaging app, but its handy in that it allows you to talk to a really close knit group of people without all the baggage that comes with the likes of Facebook and Twitter.
You can group message, or chat individually, and even send each other stickers by artists like Hugh MacLeod and Richard Perez (whoever they are?)
While most of the time you use Twitter as a gloat machine to tell people you are having a lovely time and because they aren't with you, they are presumably not, you can use Twitter as a simple messenger service to DM people that follow you. The catch of course is that while most people will have a Twitter account, they have to be following you as well, and you can only send 140 characters. No pictures or video allowed.
There are about a gazillion Instant Messenger apps in both the App store and Google Play, so which ones do you use? Let us know in the comments below.