A few weeks ago, my good friend had her phone stolen and I had the chance to witness firsthand just how much an average Smartphone user is dependent on their gadget. I later asked my friend what was it that she had missed the most about the phone, and without thinking for a second she fired back: chatting on Facebook!

Obviously, an answer like this would have made no sense just 10 years ago, but today messaging apps like my friend’s beloved Facebook Messenger are the main form of social and business communication for millions of users around the globe.

The worldwide popularity of messaging apps has been steadily growing year after year. In early 2016, mobile messaging apps were used by 1.4 million people in the world, which was an increase of 31.6% compared to the previous year.

As the number of messaging app users continues to rise, it is expected that by 2018, the global number of users will reach a whopping 2 billion. This means that by this time next year, 80% of smartphone users will also be using one of the 5 most popular messaging apps in the world: WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber, Line, and WeChat.

Since these 5 messaging app giants are only going to become even more popular in the future, we bring you a stunning visual guide to help you learn all you need to know about WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber, Line, and WeChat. Here are some of the facts you’ll find visualized in the graphic below:

History & Origin

The world’s most popular messaging apps are all pretty close in age. It’s been less than a decade since these 5 apps were released and they’re already enjoying a planetary success.

WhatsApp was released in January 2010. This popular app was invented by Jan Koum and Brian Acton, two American computer programmers who had at one point unsuccessfully applied for a job at Facebook.

In December that same year, my personal favorite messaging app Viber was released by an Israeli Talmon Marco, who had served as an army chief information officer in his home country.

Facebook Messenger, Line, and WeChat were all released in 2011. In January, the most popular messaging app in China WeChat was released by Zhang Xiaolong.

A few months later, a devastating earthquake struck Japan and the engineers of NGN Japan released a messaging app called Line as a response to the country’s badly damaged telecommunication infrastructure.

Finally, my friend’s drug of choice – Facebook Messenger – was released in August 2011. This hugely popular app was developed by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and businessman David A. Marcus.

The Number of Users

When it comes to the number of registered users, all 5 apps have an enviable user base. WhatsApp and WeChat have surpassed the figure of 1 billion, while Facebook Messenger is on its way to the same. It currently has around 1 billion registered users. Viber has over 800 million registered users, while Japan’s Line has 700 million.

As far as the number of monthly active users goes, it’s a tie between WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger who each have 1 billion users. China’s WeChat comes third with 818 million, followed by Viber with 249 million, and Line with 220 million registered users.

Facebook Messenger has shown the fastest monthly user growth rate with 50 million new users gained in one month. WhatsApp gets around 20 million, WeChat acquires 14.64 million new users, Viber gains 10 million, and Line gets 0.53 new users each month.

Popularity by Countries

Have you ever wondered where else in the world is your favourite messaging app also popular? Here’s the popularity of the 5 messaging giants by country:

WhatsApp is huge in Brazil, Mexico, India, Russia, and all over South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania.

Facebook Messenger is the messaging app of choice for users in Australia, Canada, USA, England, and France.

Viber enjoys a huge popularity in Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Iraq, Libya, and Sri Lanka.

Line is primarily used in its country of origin — Japan.

WeChat is the most popular messaging app in China, Iran, and Japan.

Languages & Interesting Features

Since the top five messaging apps in the world are used by people in almost every corner of the globe, it’s only natural that they support a number of world’s languages. Facebook Messenger supports 70 languages, which is the highest out of the other 5 apps. WhatsApp users can pick between 53 different languages, WeChat supports 52, Line supports 40 languages, and Viber offers 32 language options.

Despite their name, messaging apps are no longer used for communication purposes alone. Today, the world’s most popular messaging apps come with plenty of interesting features besides chatting:

On whatsapp camera you can write and draw on photos and videos.

facebook lets its users in USA transfer money via their messaging app.

Viber has introduced a contact sharing option, as well as a location finder.

Line is much more than a messaging app: its users can set up their account, PR, and research pages, and enjoy a wide choice of mobile games.

Wechat is arguably the most creative app when it comes to interesting features. WeChat users can now book a doctor’s appointment, pay their electricity bills and traffic fines, and book transportation – all through one messaging app!

Availability

The 5 most popular messaging apps in the world support all the major operating systems. WhatsApp is available for Android, iPhone, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Nokia, and Mac/PC.

Facebook Messenger is supported by iOS, Android, Blackberry OS, Windows Phone 8, Web, Windows 10, and Tizen.

You can use Viber on Apple iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Nokia Series 40, Symbian, Bada, macOS, and Microsoft Windows.

Line is available on iPhones, Android phones, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, and Nokia phones.

WeChat is supported by Android, iOS smartphones, Blackberry, Nokia Asha, Windows Phone, Firefox OS, iOS tablets, Microsoft Windows, and MacOS platforms.