Most of the Nothern Hemisphere is settled into the warmer weather and longer days that the summer will bring and a constant companion during these days will be one’s mobile devices. From smartphones to tablets, we will find a way to be entertained, informed, and connected to what matters. This month, we take a look at a few mobile communication tools which should help you stay connected to who and what matters.

Now, it would be easy to talk about the apps/services you might already be familiar with (Facebook, Instagram, Skype, etc.). But if we are going to task about communication apps, let’s explore a few you might not have thought of which do as good, if not better, towards communicating and connecting.

YouVersion Live

Many folks are familiar with YouVersion (probably the most widely used mobile Bible app in history), but many might not realize that their church can setup up events around YouVersion – called YouVersion Live. This is basically an account with event activity that allows churches to setup online and live church/bible study events. As many churches do have the situation of reduced attendance during summer months, this would be an excellent way to keep communities connected.

For more information on how to setup YouVersion Live Events for your church, check out this set of articles at their YouVersion’s Help Center.

WeChat

There are so many messaging applications out there, I thought that I would point out one which might not be as familiar to those from Western contexts, or to those who might be traveling throughout southeast Asia this summer. WeChat comes across as something quite similar to Skype or Facebook Messenger, but it’s certainly these plus a lot more. As with many messaging applications, you get text, emoji, video, and even free voice calls to those who are also using WeChat. But that’s, pretty much where similarities end.

WeChat is essentially a platform for sticker sharing, brand engagement, commerce, and even can replace a “normal” web presence. WeChat has the ability to do massive group chats, work as a payment processor (with vendors who support them), and even does a contact (business) card exchange behavior using QR codes. An excellent article at Bloomberg talked about living with WeChat as a Westerner that’s worth reading for a fuller picture.

Download WeChat from your device’s App Store. Do note, while the app is free, there is a market/store within the app where some items are not free, and might have some questionable content.

GroupMe

The idea of doing group messaging isn’t a new one, but not every group messaging app has the following of GroupMe. A product of the folks at Skype, GroupMe is present on desktop/laptops, tablets, and mobiles. All that’s needed is a connect to the Internet and you can begin sharing text, pictures, and video with nearly anyone.

Compared to many messaging apps, GroupMe might seem redundant. It isn’t until you realize that it has an SMS feature that you see some of its greater value. In a very real sense, you can go off camping and lose that data connection, but at least still get the text of a message about what’s happening with your friend and family who didn’t go camping with you. A similar app to this would be WhatsApp.

For more information and to download to your device, click here.

Ingress

It would seem a bit weird putting a game on a list of best mobile communication apps, but Ingress probably does a better job than most in terms of not simply getting folks to communicate with one another, but gets them out of the house to occasionally connect (compete) with one another.

Debuting as a project from Google’s Niantic Labs in 2012 (Android first, came to iOS devices in 2014), Ingress is a massive online and augmented reality game which uses your mobiles geolocation sensors to put you in a world where you are on one of two teams and you must collect portals at real locations all over the world (great definition at Wikipedia). What’s really neat is that in this literal moving around the world to collect portals, you can also communicate and connect with people and landmarks you might not normally come across.

For more info, including links to download to your mobile, click here.

IFTTT

For many, the inclusion of If This Then That (IFTTT) might seem like a weird app to call a communications app, but follow along, there are actually some neat things you can do that makes it augment many of the communication acts you might already do.

IFTTT is a workflow app. You connect it to your device and your favorite services and then you are able to do various actions. For example, are you the type who needs to let family know when you are a certain distance away from them, but you don’t want to call or text while driving? You can setup an action to send a text message automatically when you get near an area you specify. Or, maybe you need to know what the weather will look like the next day, and looking at a widget on your screen isn’t something that gets you attention. IFTTT can send weather notifications right to your mobile at the time you specific.

These and other actions are possible with this free service. Signup for IFTTT and download to your device here.

Now, What about Yours?

Those are a few top communication apps – a few which might not always have been on your radar. What are some communication apps you are looking to try this summer?