I travel internationally a lot and having the tools to communicate back home, without having an enormous bill at the end of the trip, is important. With FaceTime and Skype, the phone conversations are easy and no-cost, but the text messaging has been getting out of hand.
How many times is a text message a simple one-way note? More often than not, the text messages are conversations that go back and forth for awhile. Say ka-ching, ka-ching to a simple grand finale text that just says “Thanks” or “Bye.”
So when my daughter told me about WhatsApp, I downloaded it, tested it when out of the U.S., and now consider it my favorite text messaging app for talking with family, friends and colleagues – all at no cost!
Beyond sending text messages, WhatsApp offers these features:
- Ability to see when the recipient’s phone has received the message (and hopefully it is read soon thereafter!)
- Group chats (great when trying to coordinate dinner plans with multiple people)
- Show your current status (user defined or select from a list of choices such as “In a meeting” or “Sleeping”)
- Record an audio note (great for when you have too much to type or want to say ‘Goodnight’ in voice vs. text)
- Share location so your recipient knows where you are
- Ability to send and receive photos
It may have other features as well, though these are the features I’ve been using. I especially like the ability to send and receive photos. While my iPhone’s Messages app does successfully transmit photos when I’m in the U.S., it will not send any photos when I’m out of the country, even though I have the international phone feature turned on.
Now I can send all the photos I like using WhatsApp, communicate to anyone else on WhatsApp, and all at no cost.
WhatsApp is supported on most Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, Nokia, and Windows smartphones and can be downloaded from the WhatsApp site. There are also some rumors that Google is looking to acquire WhatsApp in the near future.