You’re probably in more group chats than you’d like. Old college friends, the neighbors, the basketball team, the parents from your kid’s school, everyone from last year’s skiing holiday, and on and on it goes.
While most messaging apps have group chat functions—as do social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter—you’ll find that certain apps are better than others at managing conversations between multiple people.
Picking the right app for your next group chat requires you to think about what you need, including the maximum number of participants, what customization options are available, and extras like video calling.
With apps changing names, and logos, or disappearing altogether, Google’s messaging app strategy hasn’t been the easiest to follow, but now the company seems to have committed to Google Chat. The platform is clean, fast, great at finding past conversations, and tightly integrated into other apps, like Gmail, so you’ll often find it close at hand.
Here, group chats can include up to 150 participants, with all the basics covered, including file sharing. The platform also has a more advanced group chat option called Spaces, where you can assign tasks to people, use Slack-like threaded conversations, and customize the group name. It’s more for teams at work, but you can still use it for whatever you like.
WhatsApp is a real powerhouse when it comes to regular one-to-one chats. But group chatting is also among its fortes, and when it comes to consistently pushing out new features, the Meta-owned platform is one of the best. WhatsApp includes a wealth of tools—including chatting, video calling, voice notes, location sharing, and end-to-end encryption.
Set up a group chat on WhatsApp and you can add up to 512 people, which is surely enough for even the busiest discussions. As well as sharing files, inside a group chat you’ll be able to create polls, make audio and video calls with all participants, set up self-destructing messages, and customize the chat with its own name and icon.
Snapchat isn’t the first app you would think of for messaging, but if you like the app already, it can be great for group chats, as you can quickly share self-destructing photos, videos, and text.
Group conversations can have up to 100 members on Snapchat, and there’s also the option to share locations and launch audio or video calls from inside those chats. If you want to up your chatting game, Snapchat now has a $4-a-month subscription which grants access to a web app and a few extra goodies, including custom mobile app icons and story rewatch counts.
Discord is similar to Slack in that it offers public and private channels for more open discussion as well as closed one-to-one chats, and group conversations with up to 10 participants. But if you need a broader discussion, you can set up a server capable of handling thousands of individuals and dozens of custom channels.
Group chats and channels can involve audio and video calls, file sharing, and other cool features like the ability to mention users and pin messages at the top of the chat. You can also pay for a Nitro subscription, starting at $3 a month, to access more features like custom stickers and the ability to share bigger files.
Even if the number of people using Facebook is dwindling, many of us are still hanging on to our accounts. This means that if you use Facebook Messenger for your group chats, you won’t have to persuade all of your friends and family members to move over to a new app. That said, there are plenty of other reasons to use it as well.
Group chats can include up to 250 people and you can customize them in a variety of ways, including group names and colors. File sharing is simple, and we especially like the media gallery that keeps track of all the photos and videos you’ve shared in the group. Features like end-to-end encryption and disappearing messages are also available, but optional.
The iMessage service built into the Apple Messages app has a lot of impressive features, and one big drawback: It’s only available on Apple devices. If someone in your group is using an Android device, that will limit how the group chat works, so if there are a lot of Android users among your friends and family, you’re better off picking a different app.
Assuming everyone is on Apple products and plans to keep it that way, you can have up to 32 people in a single group chat, which will be end-to-end encrypted by default. You can launch FaceTime for video calling with a single tap, share photos, videos, audio messages, and locations, and rename the group as you wish.
If you’re after a platform specifically built for group chats, give GroupMe a go. It has just about everything you would expect for creating and managing multiple group chats, including simple photo and video sharing, plus some handy extras like the ability to set up events inside groups, complete with RSVPs.
[Related: 6 secure alternatives to WhatsApp]
On this app, you can have up to 5,000 people in group chats, so unless you live in a terribly dense neighborhood, there’s little chance of you ever hitting that limit. You can easily create polls for groups, reply to specific messages, and mention other users. Plus, you can invite new people to join through email, SMS, and QR code.