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pre release review
One issue I had with my friends is that, for some strange reason, were using other platforms besides BlackBerry. I know, crazy right? Communication was never the same after they left. Sure, we had SMS, email or even social networks; but it wasn’t the same as BBM. It wasn’t the same as seeing that little, yellow, smiley face staring at you. That friendly grin reminded you of that special connection you once shared exclusively between your respective BlackBerrys. Once part of your elite group of BBM contacts, they now reside with the rest of the masses in your address book or social network. Now while you may never get that feeling back again, there are alternative means to keep in touch, regardless of platform. One of which is PingChat 2.
PingChat 2 offers cross platform chit chatting between BlackBerry, Android and iPhone users in a way that beats the pants off of simple SMS or email. PingChat 2 provides message notifications, group chat capabilities, media support and more. If certain people out there are reading this (you know who you are), have a look and realize that you can run from my BBM, but you can’t hide from PingChat! Mwa-hahahah!
PingChat 2 was developed by Enflick Inc; who also provide iPhone users with the TextNow and Mail Notifier applications. Back in September 2009, iPhone users were given PingChat as a means to communicate “like” BlackBerry users. The new PingChat 2 invites BlackBerry and Android users to the conversation as well. Recently available from BlackBerry App World (though many have used it long before), the current version is 1.0.3, which has a file size of 418.9 KB.
Before you get started, you will need to get a free PingID. The PingID is all that you need to start a conversation. This version doesn’t have the options that the iPhone version (being 2.0) has, but it does get the job done.
There isn’t that much to the application to date. Users need to obtain the PingID from the other party (or parties), before you can talk to them. After that, they are added to your contact list. You can also link them to your BlackBerry Address Book to add their picture ID as well. Conversations are viewed as speech bubbles that appear to be coming from two people off screen. Each individual message is limited to 200 characters. This limit is shown at the top of the chat window. From this screen, a check mark beside your message acts as a delivery confirmation; just like BBM. So PingChat 2 has the “d”, but not the “r”- leaving you guessing if they have actually read it or not. PingChat 2 supports the sharing of media files (image, video and audio) as well.
PingChat 2 comes equipped with message notifications to keep you informed of new messages. I had a slight problem with the way it worked. With BBM, the new message icon would display a number indicating the number of contacts I have a new message from. With PingChat, the number represents the number of messages in total. So if one contact sent 3 messages, I would see the number 3. You are also able to modify the alert settings via your BlackBerry Profile page.
I had two main problems with PingChat 2; no help menu/guide and no location messaging capabilities. With no guide to refer to (I know, who reads the manual anyway?) and no true support from their website, you may find yourself lost and confused. Nowhere in PingChat 2 or Google Maps can I find an option for location messaging. Basically, the service allows you to send your location via Google Maps. The website doesn’t offer much detail or even a walkthrough of PingChat, leaving the user to figure it out for themselves. The application, and the website, look smooth and sexy, but there isn’t much content to back it up.
I wasn’t too impressed with the current version of PingChat 2. Besides offering a way to connect, regardless of platform, there wasn’t much substance available. I say this because the lack of the advertised Location Messaging feature and no guide to refer to. I was happy to see a smooth UI and media support. With the hype it possesses, I have high hopes for future builds; especially looking forward to seeing emoticon support. I'm not counting PingChat 2 out yet! If you want to give PingChat 2 a shot, you can pick it up for free from BlackBerry App World.