WhatsApp Messenger iPhone app good option for iPhone-to-iPhone chatting

After months of exceeding my allotment of SMS messages, I recently — and begrudgingly — upgraded my text-messaging plan.

Sure, there are apps out there to aid my texting habit, but many of them still have extra fees and monthly or daily limits. Facebook and Gmail chat are unreliable on iPhone, and does anyone even use AIM anymore? WhatsApp Messenger aims to replace other chatting portals and slim down your cell bill by providing free, unlimited iPhone-to-iPhone messaging.

Here’s the catch: Your contact has to be using an iPhone — there’s no support for iPod Touch currently — and your contact has to have the WhatsApp app. WhatsApp automatically searches your address book for other users who are then added to a list. I didn’t have any friends with the app, so I goaded the boyfriend into installing it on his iPhone to test it out.

WhatsApp sends and receives messages within seconds and will display in the chat window if a user is online (and has the app open). It also indicates when the contact is typing, which is handy if you’re trying to get pertinent information in a quick manner. A landscape keyboard is turned off by default, but can be activated in the settings panel.

I’ll note that the boyfriend didn’t have push notifications enabled on his iPhone at the time of installation, which the app did not seem to care for. Even after enabling the push notifications, WhatsApp still gave me errors upon sending messages that he would not receive notifications (and he never did). It appears this is a glitch, as I had no problems receiving push notifications while at the other end of the couch.

With push, WhatsApp is always logged in and connected (unlike other chatting apps), so you’re unlikely to miss a message. The app’s downfall is its reliance on your friends being users, but if you can talk them into the purchase, WhatsApp is a great alternative with its free, unlimited messages.

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