Overview:

WhatsApp Messenger from WhatsApp Inc. is a cross platform messaging application similar to the ever so popular Blackberry Messenger. It allows you to send messages to your friends on the iPhone or other smartphone platforms, whilst eliminating SMS/MMS fees. Let’s see if it provides a practical reason to ditch your iPhone’s Messages app!

Features:

messages1WhatsApp Messenger currently supports iOS, Blackberry, Android (BETA) and Nokia (BETA) phones. Meaning you can communicate with friends on the mentioned platforms right from your iPhone. You are alerted of messages via Push Notifications, and you can send and receive unlimited text, pictures, audio notes and video at no additional cost.

You can tell your contacts what you’re up to with the robust Status feauture. You’ll be able to choose from a list of standard status’ such as, At work, At the movies, Battery about to die, or you can set your own custom message. To add to the fun, you can connect the app with your Facebook account so it updates your FB status at the same time.

The “Blocked” feature allows you block those pesky contacts that you no longer want to receive messages from. Need to tell friends exactly where you are? This can easily be done with the Location Sharing feature. It sends your location in the form of a message for use in Google Maps.

There are a slew of other cool features such as custom wallpapers for the message screen, multi-contactmessages 2broadcasting of messages, offline message view-ability, always-on connectivity, emailing of chat history and more.

The Good:

When I was a Blackberry user, I would constantly have to ask for BBM Pins which consisted of impossible-to-remember alpha numeric character combinations. With WhatsApp, you don’t even need user names. The app integrates with your contacts, so whoever has the app gets added to your favorites- easy as that.

photo 1The Status feature is one of my favorite things about WhatsApp Messenger. What makes the Status implementation so great is that you’re able to set a schedule for when you want it to expire.

So let’s say you want to tell your friends that you’re at the movies; you don’t have to worry about remembering to change it after you’re done, just set it to expire after the duration of the film. The Facebook connectivity is a very welcomed addition as well; you can enlighten both, your contacts and Facebook friends on your whereabouts at the same time.

photo 2I’ve always appreciated the ability to log messages. If there is a conversation I may want to archive for later review, I am able to email myself the transcript in the universal .txt format. This is something I wish the standard Messages app did.

The Bad:

One thing I would have enjoyed seeing would be the addition of emoticons. Sure you can use Emoji, but that won’t work unless your friend is using an iPhone. It’s no big deal, given the rich feature-set, but adding it in a future update wouldn’t hurt.

photo 4Another issue I had with WhatsApp was brief periods of downtime here and there. It didn’t affect me too much when looking at it in terms of overall use, but this could be a deal breaker for the more heavier users of the service. Servers will be servers, and I’m confident the developers will upgrade their infrastructure to handle the onslaught of new users.

Verdict:

In an App Store populated by would-be BBM alternatives, nothing quite hits the spot like WhatsApp. It beautifully integrates with your contacts list, and seamlessly sorts out users of the app to your buddy list; not much is effort is necessary on your end. With a robust set of features, clean simplistic design and execution, WhatsApp Messenger is a Must Buy!