I have to be honest here. This find cannot be credited to me. I was merely informed about it. The App Store is very clustered and filled so many apps that I don’t even know where to begin. I guess the time has come for us to rely on word of mouth or reviews to get introduced to apps like these. Nevertheless, despite the unorthodox route which I got to this app from, WhatsApp proved to be an app worth talking about.
WhatsApp is an iPhone to iPhone messenger chat application. It can’t be considered instant messaging like MSN or AIM. It also doesn’t fall under Short Message Service (SMS). Rather, it’s somewhere in between. WhatsApp uses your existing internet connection (EDGE, 3G, Wifi) to send messages across networks, finally appearing on the recipient’s iPhone with the help of Push notification.
It’s fairly painless to set up and very easy to use. Would you like to know how? I’m sure you would. First, what you need to do is download the application from here [iTunes link] and install it to your iPhone. Launch the app and follow the simple on-screen instructions. You’ll have to enter your phone number in International format because WhatsApp uses your phone number to register you in its database. Unfortunately, certain countries aren’t supported: Mexico, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and India. If you reside in any one of these countries, the app won’t work for you. Otherwise, proceed by all means.
The app will then send you a confirmation code via SMS, which you will have to enter in the next step. Once you’re confirmed your phone number, you’re ready to rock and roll. WhatsApp is pretty genius because it will go through your address book and search for any contacts who are already using the same application. To find out who’s already on board, tap on the Contacts tab. Those using WhatsApp will have a status next to their names. Tap on any one of them to start a conversation.
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If none of your friends are using WhatsApp, it’s pretty easy to get them to join you. Tap on the chats tab then the “Tell a Friend” button. You’ll be presented with 2 options: send them an invitation via email or SMS. Choosing either will relay you over to your address book so you can choose who you’d like to invite. That person will receive a message along with a link to WhatsApp’s homepage to allow them to download the app.
There is no need to sign in or out because again, this isn’t instant messaging. The entire system works with Push notification. This means that if someone sends you a message, even if you’re not currently using the application, you’ll get a notification on your iPhone that looks something like a SMS. To permit this feature to work, you’ll have to enable Push Notifications via the Settings menu. Go to Settings->Notifications->WhatsApp and slide the toggles to enable the notifications you want to receive. Then make sure that ‘Notifications’ is also enabled. After you’ve done this, it’s essential to turn on Airplane mode for at least 30 seconds then disable it for the Push notification service to be recognized.
Another interesting feature about WhatsApp is that it can submit your status over to Facebook, which is quite a nice touch. You can also get notifications every time a friend updates their status.
WhatsApp is free for a limited time and will work on all legitimately activated iPhones running 3.0 and above with an internet connection (EDGE, 3G, Wifi).
What do you think of this application? I think it’s pretty handy to bypass international messaging costs. Do you have a better alternative? I’d love to hear about it. Heck, that’s how I got to know this application!