With the constant barrage of news coming from the mobile front in the last week, RIM's service outage and the iPhone 4S and iMessage release, let's take a second and take a gander at the third option for quick, seamless, non-SMS messaging.
It's not a new concept. While BBM is great in a lot of ways, you can only ever talk to your BlackBerry carrying friends on it. Sadly, Apple has taken the exact same route with iMessage, incorporating a lot of the most prized features, like message delivery status and integrated media sharing, from BBM, while keeping it to strictly iPod and iPhone users that you can interact with.
While the chances of either tech giant ope
ning up its service to the entire mobile community is about as likely as porcine flight or a skating rink in the earth's core, a few start-ups have tried desperately to make something with the same features but deliver it to every device.
I won't name them all here, because really, I've downloaded most of them and deleted them within days because of one reason; nobody used them.
Somehow, an unlikely contender has entered the ring recently and is growing a lot in popularity.
It's called WhatsApp
. The key differententiator between WhatsApp and it's many progenitors, is that it seamlessly integrates into your existing contacts. You can SMS anyone on your current contact list using your data plan, and, anyone on your list who is already using the service will be added to a separate WhatsApp list of contacts.
Just like BBM, you can see when your friend is typing, send photos, music and video and receive delivery notifications when the message lands and when it's read.
Startlying, after downloading it, I noticed that more than a few of my friends already had it and, besides a bit of polish that BBM and iMessage have, the fact that I can still use it to contact non-WhatsApp users position this, err, app to be a real contender in the mobile instant messaging forum.
Right now, you can download a version of WhatsApp on BlackBerry, Android, iPhone, Nokia and Windows Phone 7 (if you have Mango).
Check it out and give it a whirl. This is probably the first multi-platform messaging app I've actually been able to vouch for, but it's always best to try it for yourself.