Smartphones can be expensive. And messaging plans even more so over the life of the contract. Enter a new way to reduce your monthly cellphone bill: applications that send text messages over the Internet, eliminating your need for overpriced text messages by your phone carrier.
On my trip to Asia this summer, I discovered that many of my friends in Singapore have abandoned their text messaging plans in favor of WhatsApp. WhatsApp is a cheap mobile messenger application ($0.99 in the Apple App Store) that works across multiple platforms (iPhone, Blackberry, Android, Windows Phone). Instead of sending texts via your messaging plan, WhatsApp sends them over your data plan or wifi network. You can also send multimedia messages such as photos/videos, audio notes, contacts, locations as well through the app.
In form and function, WhatsApp works similarly to Apple’s iMessage, which allows users to send text messages to Apple devices over data/wifi. But iMessage cannot text a non-Apple device in this way.
What I love about WhatApp:
1. Texting friends overseas without having to incur global SMS charges.
2. I can use the same WhatsApp account even if I switch SIM cards. This allows my contacts to remain in touch with me no matter what my phone number may be.
3. WhatsApp also offers push notifications, meaning that you don’t need to open the application to find out if you’ve a new message waiting.
What I Don’t Love about WhatsApp:
1. The person you’re messaging must have a WhatsApp account. There’s no way to message them otherwise. This makes it slightly more difficult to use, especially if you are texting people who are unfamiliar with the process of downloading applications.
2. WhatsApp doesn’t have a PC or Mac counterpart. Ideally, the app would seamlessly transition from cellphone to desktop.
WhatsApp really shines when it comes to making international conversations easy and seamless. But it has also been a great help to my domestic cellphone bill. Between WhatsApp and how many people now have iPhones (and iMessage), and I’ve managed to really ramp down on my text messaging use. Last month I got rid of my overpriced text messaging plan, and my bill has satisfyingly shrunk.
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