In a perfect world, everyone would be using BlackBerrys. Actually, in a perfect world, I should be getting a lot more data for a lot less. Unfortunately, for both issues, we live in the real world. We all have friends and family that use other smartphones, regardless if they defected from the BlackBerry or were otherwise forced to leave. Those empty, silent BlackBerry Messenger contacts are a grim reminder that communication with them will never be the same way again. You have to resort to SMS, email or, ugh a phone call (I hope you sense a hint of sarcasm at this point). It is a slightly odd feeling, as you converse through alternate means, when you are so used to the “ping”.
WhatsApp steps up to the plate as a smartphone to smartphone instant messaging alternative. If you don’t have any sort of unlimited text messaging plan, this application is definitely right up your alley. Now I can harass, I mean, reach out my former BlackBerry friends, without racking up the SMS charges. Besides, I never did like the default look of SMS conversations. Now, let’s see what’s up with WhatsApp.
You are required to be running OS 4.5 or higher before taking WhatsApp for a test drive. The list of compatible BlackBerry models include the Bold 9000 & 9700, the Curve 83xx, 8520, 8900, the Pearl 81xx, Pearl Flip 82xx, Storm 95xx, 88xx, and Tour 9630. The current version of WhatsApp is version 2.3.2659 and has a file size of 259.9KB. Currently, those using a BlackBerry or an iPhone can take advantage of WhatsApp. WhatsApp Inc is currently working to roll the application out for the Android and Symbian platforms.
While the application is light on features, it does allow you to keep in touch with other smartphone users, in a style slightly similar to BlackBerry Messenger. The main menu of
The Chats field will show a list of all of your open chats. The application includes timestamps, detailing when the message was sent or received. Any message from the previous day will not have a time in the timestamp; only the date (i.e. 3/21/2010). Chats are threaded and displayed in “bubbles”, making it easy to view the entire conversation.
I know iPhone users can see when someone is typing a message (like we can on BBM), but so far, we can’t see that. We do have a new message notification icon on the home screen, as well as the ability to read and reply from our native message folder. You can also edit alert tones and such from the native profiles menu. I wondered why my sent messages were marked with not one, but two checkmarks. I found out that one checkmark indicates that the message was received by the server and the second one meant that the recipient received it.
The Favs section is where I would find all of my favourite people to talk to- well at least the ones who do actually speak to me (sniff). If someone ticked me off, I can move them up and down my list; just like in the Seinfeld episode ‘The Milennium’!
I did like how WhatsApp was able to pull up all of my contacts from my Address Book, rather than having to add them myself. You can also call or email directly from WhatsApp. If a contact was using WhatsApp, I would be able to see their status under their name and when they last updated it. No pictures/avatars were available, however. The Status section helps you manage your status, whether it is available, busy or “indisposed”. WhatsApp offers 11 statuses to choose from, with the ability to add your own. You can also edit, delete or move statuses as well.
As it stands, WhatsApp definitely has the basics down. I could see a lot of additions they could make to future builds, if they want to offer a robust messenger. They are currently working on the ability to send files, but I would like to see group chats and images to start. All in due time I suppose. WhatsApp offers a 30 day free trial before purchasing the application for an annual price of $1.99.For more information, head over to WhatsApp.com.