WhatsApp: The Smartphone Messaging Alternative Minus The Costs

WhatsAppWhatsApp is an instant messaging (IM) app for smartphones to send messages to each other, without having to pay the rates for normal text messages. It works with your smartphone’s internet connection and while it closely resembles standard text messaging, it’s way more powerful at only a fraction of the cost.

The app only costs a dollar and the only catch is that your friends also have to have the app installed on their phones. Once downloaded, it’s really easy to set up. The app has a wizard which walks you through the setup, registers your number on the WhatsApp network, and scans your contacts for WhatsApp users, which will appear in your Favorites list.

If you’re an early adopter amongst your friends, you can simply invite them via email or text message to download WhatsApp. Blackberry users have Blackberry Messenger (BBM), which only was limited to Blackberry users, and you have to invite friends and use pin codes. WhatsApp is simple. No need for pins or invites, your Favorites list gets populated automatically as your contacts start using WhatsApp.

Another bonus is that it’s not limited to one brand of handsets. At the time of writing, WhatsApp is available for iPhone and Blackberry, and there are working beta versions for Android 2.x and Nokia S60 phones.

Besides sending text messages, WhatsApp for iPhone, Blackberry and Android allows you to send images, video and audio recordings. You can share your location if your smartphone is GPS enabled and you can share contacts. Similar to BBM, you can set a status message, and if WhatsApp is linked to Facebook, your WhatsApp status message also gets shared on Facebook.

All in all, I think it’s an awesome app. It finally lets iPhone users send IMs to other smartphone users and also gives delivery reports, indicated by two green ticks, something which has been absent from standard iPhone text messaging. The price for data used by WhatsApp will still be significantly less than that of text messages, and you can monitor WhatsApp’s data usage within the app.

WhatsApp can be downloaded here.

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