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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Review - PingChat

The astute amongst you may have noticed and editorial error yesterday, as I accidentally published an article.  This is the post I meant to publish, and yesterdays, should have followed it!!

With me so far?  Thought not!!  Enjoy anyway....

BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) has made headlines recently, as it has become one of the most popular instant message applications for mobile phones.  Indeed, it's one of the reasons that RIM (the developers of BlackBerry) have had such a good time of late - and outstripped sales of the iPhone in the last quarter of 2010!!

However, BBM is only good for chatting BlackBerry to BlackBerry.  What if your friends, family and colleagues are using different phones.  The iPhone is prolific and Android is making huge headway into the market.

There are cross-platform (as it's known) applications that allow you to do just this; one of which is WhatsApp, and the other is a relative newcomer - PingChat.

PingChat is simple to setup, and it will search your address book, as well as Facebook and Twitter (if you let it) to find other PingChat users.  They will automatically be invited to become 'buddies'.

The system allows you to chat realtime, send photos, voice notes and video.  It's a simple interface, and it also allows you to have a group chat, with multiple contacts at once.  The only downside to this; on the BlackBerry, is that you need to know their PingChat ID.  This is silly; surely I should be able to select from my list of contacts.  Hopefully, that will change.

It's not quite there with BBM.  You can't add smiley faces, and the voice notes need to be pre-recorded; they can't be recorded in the app - another missing feature.

All in all - whilst they are making great strides, and without a doubt will continue to grow; for me PingChat doesn't fulfil my needs as an instant messenger.  I must stress, that this is on the BlackBerry.

I have looked at the iPhone / iPod app on the iPod Touch.  That doesn't have voice notes, but you can send pictures.  You can also send a map with your current location.  That could be useful.  Unfortuately, that functionality doesn't exist on the BlackBerry, so I couldn't open the map!!

And there is the crux of the problem.  Whilst basic chat is cross-platform; if you want to do more; there's still a way to go.  But, don't ignore it completely; the basics are good, and when they tidy up around the edges, then this will definitely be an app to have.

Do you use cross-platform instant message applications?  Which one is your favourite?
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