Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told investors that Apple’s iMessage service was by far Facebook’s “biggest competitor” in messaging. In countries such as the US where Apple’s devices dominate, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp have seen slow adoption. But WhatsApp has amassed more than 1.5 billion users across the globe. In this WhatsApp vs iMessage comparison, let’s check out how the two services stack up.
Services like WhatsApp and iMessage have become increasingly important to Facebook and Apple as user communication continues to shift from publicly shared content to private messaging.
The two services are pretty similar in most aspects. They both allow users to send messages, photos, videos, voice recordings, and emojis to their friends and family. Users can send to a contact individually or as part of group messages. They both let users make voice and video calls to other users.
WhatsApp vs iMessage: Availability across platforms
The iMessage app comes pre-installed on iPhones, iPads, iPods, Macs, and Apple Watch. It’s one of the most popular apps in Apple’s ecosystem. It can sync your messages across all Apple devices logged into your Apple account. It’s one of the biggest strengths of iMessage, as well as one of its biggest weaknesses. Apple doesn’t offer an iMessage web client, meaning you can’t access your messages on a PC.
Apple’s messaging service is also not available on Android or any other platform outside its ecosystem. It’s useful only if your friends and family members are invested in Apple’s ecosystem.
In contrast, WhatsApp is a cross-platform service. It’s available on iOS, Android, Windows 10, macOS, and even BlackBerry and Symbian platforms. You can download WhatsApp on your device and get started within minutes. There is a good chance most of your friends are already using it. If not, you can send them a quick invite to join the service.
WhatsApp is linked to your phone number, which means you can use it only on one device. If you want to use it on multiple devices, you have to scan the QR code from your smartphone. WhatsApp uses mirroring, meaning your phone must have a consistent Internet connection if you want to use it from your computer or web browser.
To use it from your web browser, go to web.whatsapp.com and scan the QR code using the smartphone app.
WhatsApp vs iMessage: User interface
Both services have a clean interface. They are easy to navigate and get started. If you use iMessage, your friends don’t have to “sign up” for the service (assuming they use Apple devices). You can message them using their Apple ID or phone number and they’ll get your message.
Apple’s service offers iMessage apps to let you collaborate with others without having to leave the app. The iMessage users can place audio calls or FaceTime calls by tapping on the contact name or number at the top of the conversation. Users can see clear indicators in iMessage for message delivery and receipt.
They can also use Animoji to create and share animated characters that can use your voice and mirror your facial expressions. There is also the Memoji feature that matches your personality and mood.
WhatsApp doesn’t yet have something similar to Memoji or Animoji. But it offers many of the same features as iMessage. When you setup your WhatsApp, it gets access to your contacts and automatically shows you all contacts using WhatsApp. You can send messages, photos, videos, voice recordings, and even documents to your friends individually or in a group. It also allows you to make audio or video calls over the Internet.
WhatsApp users can also see when someone is online and when the message is sent, delivered or seen. Of course, you can choose to hide your Last Seen status, read receipts, and other things, but then you’ll also not be able to see the Last Seen or read receipts of your friends. WhatsApp also shows you detailed storage and network usage.
WhatsApp vs iMessage: Security
Both services use end-to-end encryption to ensure your data is secure. It ensures that your messages are not seen by the governments, hackers, or providers. It’s worth pointing out that Apple encrypts messages sent to and from devices only within its ecosystem. If you use iMessage to message an Android user, that message is not encrypted.
If you use iCloud backup, iMessage data is backed up by default. You have to toggle it off from settings to prevent iCloud backup of iMessage data. Backing up iMessage data on iCloud means Apple keeps the encryption keys for the backup, not the user. It effectively negates the end-to-end encryption.
WhatsApp does a better job at security. It uses end-to-end encryption for all conversations including voice and video calls. But unlike iMessage, it doesn’t keep encryption keys with itself. It means the messages cannot be accessed by anybody other than the sender and the recipient. Even WhatsApp can’t access your conversations because it doesn’t store your messages.
So, which one is better? Apple’s iMessage is loaded with tons of features. It’s an excellent choice for people whose friends and family members are tied to the Apple ecosystem. If most of your friends use Android or Windows devices, WhatsApp could be a better choice.