New Social Networks

Facebook is one of the most popular ways for busy moms to keep up with friends and family — but it's certainly not the only way. These five new digital networking tools make it faster, cheaper and easier than ever to stay connected.

Smartphone with social network

1

Facebook Home

Can't get enough Facebook? Now you can have your friends at your fingertips with the free Facebook Home app. Turn on your phone and you'll see a stream of your friends and their photos right on your home screen. Facebook Home lets you chat with your friends even while you're using other apps, so you can keep the conversation flowing. Facebook notifications will also pop up on your home screen. Currently, Facebook Home is available on certain devices, including the Samsung Galaxy S III, Samsung Galaxy Note II, HTC One X and HTC One X+.

2

Path

If you're looking for a more personal alternative to Facebook, Path bills itself as a private social network. Emphasizing quality over quantity, Path is essentially a personal journal that allows you to chronicle your life and share special moments with your friends — the digital equivalent of a “trusted, intimate environment like the dinner table at home,” as billed by their site. New features include private messaging and stickers to personalize your messages. Plus, you can use Path as one central hub to store all your photos, video and messages — then share select items to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Tumblr... if, and when, you like.

3

WhatsApp

The CEO of WhatsApp claims his mobile messaging app has more users than Twitter. So why haven't you heard of it? The company apparently prefers to keep a low profile, while steadily increasing its user base. WhatsApp lets customers exchange messages between iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia phones using the internet, not SMS. After one 99-cent charge for the app (for iPhone users only — Android users get it for free), users can message, create groups and send unlimited photos, video and audio at no cost.

4

WeChat

WeChat is a free messaging app that allows you to send unlimited messages, photos, video and voice at no cost, a lot like WhatsApp, but with a greater focus on privacy. WeChat doesn't tell message senders if you've seen their message (which is good if you don't always get back to someone right away), lets you approve people before they can send you messages and gives you the option of signing out to temporarily turn off instant messages. WeChat also lets users make video calls and send audio messages.

5

Line

The free messaging app line is big in Japan — probably because that's where it comes from. At its core, line offers free calls, video sharing and voice messages — and because it's Japanese, there's a whole lot of cuteness built in. Users can attach character stickers to messages and photos, and you can also craft personalized digital cards. Extra features include games and photo drawing tools. Line can be used on iPhone, Android, Windows and Blackberry phones or on the computer.

quick tip

Want a private way to schedule dates, play tic-tac-toe or even "thumbkiss" with your partner? Try Couple — a social networking app made for two.

More ways to stay connected

How to build up your social presence
Best alternatives to the iPhone
10 Best Android photo editing apps for on-the-go moms

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