It's good to talk, but it's better to text, as the famous slogan didn't say. And one trend that's been growing hugely in the last year or so to make this easier is the mobile instant messaging (IM) app.
There could be a few reasons for this. With better – and cheaper – mobile internet connectivity, its often more cost-effective to use one of these apps, as they don't eat into a user's text usage allowances, while the amount of data they take up is comparatively miniscule. But being a cheapskate (or prudent spender, if you prefer) isn't the only reason, as these apps often have many fancy bells and whistles attached to do much more than just texts.
And as touchscreen smartphones become more prolific, there's also no need to deal with the irritation of having to press number keys multiple times to type out a word – though you can bet this won't stop many people resorting to the sort of text speak that looks like it was churned out by an Enigma machine.
But with this popularity, everyone wants a slice of the pie, so the number of choices available to users is insane, with dozens of alternatives all claiming to boast the best ease-of-use and widest range of features. And as no-one wants to have to download all of these to keep in touch with different people, it's best to pick one or two that you know your friends use as well. But which ones should these be? We've put together a list of some of the best for you to think about.
You may think of this mainly as a video call service, but did you know its also got a great text-only option? What's more, as you can integrate it with desktop versions, you can even keep in touch with people who aren't using smartphones.
And of course, it's industry-leading video option is yet another string to its bow that sets it apart from many of its rivals, along with group chats, file sharing and voice calls, so you don't have to eat into that allowance either.
Until recently, BBM was one of the last remaining reasons to consider buying a BlackBerry phone. It practically invented the mobile IM market and was the main reason the previously business-oriented BlackBerrys were so often seen in the hands of teenagers who can't bear to go five minutes without updating their friends on what they think.
But the app has since been extended to iOS and Android users, which is great news for people who enjoy the strong security and range of features, but don't want to be tied down to the increasingly outdated BlackBerry operating system. The iOS and Android versions aren't quite up to the standard of the BlackBerry app yet, but you can be sure they'll get there.
One of the first third-party IM apps for the iPhone, WhatsApp's growth has been truly phenomenal, coming from nowhere to a user base of hundreds of millions.
What's great about it is it's easy enough for everyone to understand. Other services may have flashier features, but for just keeping in touch with friends and family – and particularly those who are usually wary of all this newfangled technology – this is hard to beat. And because its so ubiquitous, you can pretty much assume everyone you need to talk to will be on it as well.
One of the real up-and-comers in the IM market, one of Line's big plus points is the sheer range of options included. This lets you do far more than just swap text messages, as you can hold group chats, make video calls and even play games with friends straight through the app.
It also offers a range of cartoon characters and emoticons for injecting a bit of fun into the conversation, which makes it great for younger users and those who are still young on the inside. Be careful though, because many of these extras aren't free.
It's weird to think of Facebook as the old, slightly uncool option, but the once-essential social network has been surpassed recently by some of its IM rivals – which may be because it was surprisingly slow to put in place a decent mobile option.
But its still a solid performer for the basics and, like WhatsApp, it benefits from a huge potential user base, guaranteeing you can stay in touch. This is because even if they don't have the dedicated Messenger app, they'll still receive messages through their normal Facebook app.