We have always adored Blackberry Messenger, the trademark of RIM for many years now. Blackberry users have been enjoying this service to be in touch with their friends, relatives, colleague, etc without spending money on sms’s or using IM’s like Gtalk. However now, courtesy WhatsApp all the smart-phone users including Android, Symbian, Blackberry and iPhone can enjoy a service identical to Blackberry Messenger (BBM as they say) on their mobile phones and that too at almost no cost!
WhatsApp Messenger, a cross-platform mobile messaging app, is a BBM type service that lets you interact with your contacts for free. It allows you to send text messages, video files, audio files, image’s at no cost. The only prerequisite being the person with whom you want to interact should have WhatsApp installed. I have been using WhatsApp on my Nokia 5230 for some time now and here’s what i think of it:
The installation size of WhatsApp is 3MB and it quietly resides on the phone memory running 24×7 in background. When you install it, first a registration form needs to be submitted with your mobile phone number (make sure it’s correct) and then a sms is sent from your own mobile number to the number your registered with to verify the number. Once the verification is done, WhatsApp searches for the other WhatsApp users in your phonebook automatically and shows them under the head “Favorites” on the home-screen, this process is repeated each time any entry in your phonebook is modified/added/deleted hence all the Favorites are kept up-to-date. Moreover, all those who are not using WhatsApp are neatly shown under the head “Contacts” from where you can send them a download link of WhatsApp and invite them via sms/email.
The user interface is clean and simple, no extra tabs to deal with. The home-screen has 4 tabs shows in Grid form viz.
- Chats – Shows all the ongoing conversations with different contacts.
- Favorites – All the contacts in your phonebook using WhatsApp.
- Contacts – Shows all the entries in your mobile phone’s phone book.
- Status – Allows you to set your current status, similar to IM’s.
To start a conversation all you need to do is click/tap on the contact, type the message and send it. No fuss at all, just the way it should be. As far setting up WhatsApp is concerned, it does have lot many options to configure, you can choose the memory (phone or external) to save media; Way of alerting you when a new message arrives (Tone, Vibration, Light or pre-assigned contact’s ringtone); Turn off when on roaming (saves data costs).
One of the best feature of WhatsApp is the sharing your current Geo location. A small map appears on the chat screen clicking which opens up the default map application in your phone using which you can easily track the person or get direction to! All in all I have really enjoyed using WhatsApp on my symbian phone barring the following issues:
- Conversing with 3-4 contacts without deleting the chat history makes WhatsApp is bit slow to respond.
- Absence of option to select preferred mode of Internet connection. It automatically picks up the working connection or tries all the available connections till one of them works. And there are times when it messes up with Internet connectivity due to the same reason.
- I am a little skeptical about storage of media files which are shared over WhatsApp. Are those stores on their servers? Are they safe? They should mention the same in their FAQ maybe.
There’s no way to tun it off completely. It continues to run in background no matter what you do.
I must say it has a great future ahead of it for the simple reason that it is not restricted to just a single OS. It’s cross OS usability works in its favour. An iphone user can interact with a symbian, blackberry or android user without worrying about using a different app for each one of them.
WhatsApp is available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and Symbian (S60v3, S60v5, Symbian^3) mobile phones. You can download the latest version directly from their website. WhatsApp costs roughly 1.99$ (for Symbian users) but can be used for free for 1 year.