Thanks to social networking apps, it’s never been easier to keep in contact with your friends.
Many of the best social networking apps out there have been around for a while, but as smartphones get smarter, so do the apps, and you can now do more than ever.
From fan favourites like Instagram and Facebook to newcomers like Hinge or Secret, there’s never been a better time to find a social network that’s tailored to your tastes.
There's a reason Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $US19 billion earlier this year, and that's because WhatsApp is exactly what every messaging app should aim to be. It's designed well, free to use (even for international messaging), has a thriving user base, and lets you send texts, voice messages, pictures, and videos.
Vine lets you splice together clips that play on a loop and share them with your friends. You can edit videos on the spot and post to Twitter and Facebook, and you can now import videos from your phone, too. The community also allows you to find, follow, and interact with other Vine users.
Snapchat began as just an app for sharing self-destructing photos and videos to your friends, but it's quickly evolved into the No. 1 app for visual communication. With its new Stories feature, you can now weave together photos and videos into a visual status of sorts, and you can also send texts from directly within the app.
Twitter's official app lets you stay on top of your tweets from your phone. Besides that, it offers some unique features that aren't found in third-party apps. For example, you can set specific push notifications for individual accounts so you'll never miss an important bit of news.
With over 300 million users, LinkedIn is a great place to network and connect with other professionals. The app is well-designed, syncs with your phone's calendar to help stay on top of meetings, and even lets you view and save recommended jobs. If you're a Premium subscriber, you can also see who has viewed your profile every day, right from your phone's Notification Center.
Facebook is still the best social network out there for staying in contact with those you care about. Besides letting you see what your friends are up to, you can share updates, photos, and videos on the go, and push notifications quickly alert you to any activity that involves you. You can also play games and use your favourite Facebook apps.
Facebook Messenger handles all your real-time communications on Facebook. You can message your friends, send pictures and videos, and even call them over WiFi or your data plan when you're out and about.
Facebook is in the process of spinning out Messenger from the regular Facebook app. Soon, it will be the only way you can send Facebook messages on mobile.
Pinterest encourages you to find things you're interested in and 'pin' them to your virtual pinboard, which acts like your own creative collage. Friends and those who follow you can then comment on your pinboard or re-pin a photo, and if you're using an iPhone, you can pin an item directly from within the Safari web browser.
Meeting people has never been easier with these four apps.
Hinge: Hinge helps you discover people that your Facebook friends already know, requiring a Facebook account so you can view the interesting details about a person while removing the 'random' aspect of other dating apps. You get to see a curated list of potential matches, and select those you're interested in. If someone 'likes' you back, Hinge introduces the two of you to help get the conversation started.
Tinder: Tinder is best known for its swiping system, which lets you swipe right if you're interested in someone or left to move on to your next potential match. If two people both swipe right on each other, Tinder lets you know you have a match, and you can message your match from right within the app.
Grindr: Grindr is a location-based dating app targeted towards gay and bisexual men. The app lets you know what singles are nearby so you can meet up with them, and with over 5 million active monthly users, there are plenty of choices.
OkCupid: OkCupid has most of the same features as other social networks. Users can chat, send status updates, message potential matches, and let the service match you up using its algorithms. The mobile app also lets you know what singles are nearby for impromptu meetups.