Android app Beluga is a whale of a group messaging client

by Tim McLain

Hardcore BlackBerry users who make the jump to an Android handset invariably ask one question: "Where's my BBM?" BlackBerry Messenger is but one ingredient of that phone's success. After all, as a universal group-messaging app, it's hard to beat. Until now.

Beluga is a whale of a replacement to this sorely needed functionality on our Droids (and iPhones, too). After you and your colleagues, family and friends install this free app, you can easily set up pods (as in whales, get it?), which are private groups of people you've organized into buddy lists.

Once created, you can send each pod text messages and images, and even share your current location using your built-in GPS. Turning on popup alerts/push messaging makes receiving this content a snap.

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The app makes creating these pods painless, grabbing your phone's address book as a starting point for organization. Just create a pod, add a few members, and off you go.

I've created one for my immediate family for shopping trips, another for my larger family circle we interact with during the holidays, a third for business associates in my town and so on.

The best part: Sending messages and content in this manner won't incur the usual per-text fee. Of course, if you're paying for an unlimited plan, you're all set.

One major drawback? Beluga's privacy policy. As of this review, the policy seems to be overly broad, which is turning some users away from the app. Since all of your communications are stored on its servers (both a pro and a con), some users have voiced concerns about data mining or other potential hacking/data breaches that could expose your data to others.

As with all apps, it's installer, beware.