Call your friends with WhatsApp Messenger Android app

by Caitlin M. Foyt

WhatsApp Messenger is a fancy texting app that could save you some money on your monthly phone bill. The only trouble is that for this to work, you've gotta talk all of your friends into downloading and using it, too.

WhatsApp Messenger is a service that allows smartphone users to exchange messages without traditional SMS text. By simply downloading and registering with WhatsApp, you're able to share unlimited texts and multimedia messages. In theory, having this app on hand saves you the monthly costs of maintaining a texting plan, all together, because you no longer need to communicate by the phone company's rules.

The big bummer about WhatsApp, though, is that you can only communicate with friends who also have the app on their phones. The app makes it easy for you to "tell a friend" to join the service by providing you with the means to shoot your contacts a quick text (through standard service) or by email, but, you still gotta bug 'em.

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As that friend in the social circle who has, over the years, notoriously been known for begging friends to join up with the latest social network or subscribe to new Internet services, I just knew from the get-go that the whole recruitment thing wouldn't go so well for me. However, obviously, the same thing might not be said for everyone. In a time when the vast majority of people seem to be closely watching their spending, this might be a really easy money-saving solution for people to grab onto. You never know, a little badgering could go a long way.

On a similar note, though, because this app works and feels just like a lot of the existing standard messaging services, I think most people might be better off beating the system by downloading apps that allow users to log in to their old standby AIM, MSN or Yahoo! Messenger accounts. These are popular services that most people probably already have. This would save you the trouble of bugging all of your contacts to join another service.

To get started with WhatsApp, you have to set up the application by verifying your identity. What's nice is that the app actually walks you through it, and it's a very quick process. WhatsApp will send you a code via standard text message, and you just have to enter it on the set-up screen. The app will then skim through your list of contacts to see if anyone else you know also has WhatsApp.

A few of my friends had the service, so I shot them some messages to get a feel for what the app was like. Overall, WhatsApp looked and felt just like standard instant-messaging services like AIM and MSN, from the layout and design to the fact that the messages were received by both parties in a timely manner.

One feature I especially like about this app that you can't get from standard SMS, was that I could create a status/away type message to let my friends know when I was and was not available.

If you can convince your friends to download WhatsApp, it might be worth it. This app works well, and it might save you some money.