WhatsApp for iOS Review: Mean Green Texting Machine
Today’s smartphone is much the same as it used to be in the 2000s. The most significant difference between today’s iOS and Android and former favorites Windows Mobile and Symbian is always being online. Old smartphones didn’t have to be connected to the Internet all the time (as modern ones are).
So why don't you replace your SMS communication with an Internet messenger? It’s much cheaper and more convenient for everyone. This might be the reason why WhatsApp is much more popular than yesterday’s favorites – ICQ, MSN and other messengers.
WhatsApp is a cross-platform service, so you can chat and talk with your friends no matter what platform they are using. It’s available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry OS, as Chrome extension and is even embedded in Nokia’s S40 phones! No wonder that WhatsApp popularity surged to 500,000,000 users by April 2014! Now we can speak of about a billion users.
This service uses your phone number as your ID. So you won’t have to fill your contact list manually. Just let the system analyze your phone book and it will automatically add every WhatsApp user to its contact list.
You’ll have to confirm your phone number when activating WhatsApp. This procedure is required only when you install or reinstall WhatsApp on your iPhone. After you have entered your phone number you’ll receive an SMS with your unique 6-digit verification code. You’ll have to enter this code into a window on WhatsApp verification screen. If you don’t receive the SMS you can use voice call to get the verification code. It’s free for any country you’re in.
The app is compatible with iPhone only and is not meant for iPad. Anyway, there are still tricks allowing to. Besides, there’s a third-party app named WhatsPad (it used to be a Cydia extension, but now it’s available officially on iTunes). But that’s another story.
The basic features of WhatsApp are much like any mobile phone’s features. It allows you to chat with your friends in SMS-like mode, send voice messages to them, and make voice calls. Text chatting doesn’t require a fast connection, neither does voice messaging. But if you want to talk with no delays and distortion, you’ll have to use Wi-Fi or 4G, because even 3G may not handle this data flow properly.
So is the interface of the app, very phone-like. It has three sections: call history, chats, and contacts. When you open a contact card you can see whether he/she is online or when has gone offline.
Chatting with WhatsApp has some specific features. Of course, it’s totally free within WhatsApp. You can send an unlimited number of messages with an unlimited number of symbols in each. Besides plain text, you can send pictures, videos, web links, locations, contacts. Any type of content will be opened in the default app for it.
There are marks below your message text that indicate your vis-à-vis’ reaction. You can see when your message is sent from your iPhone when it’s delivered to the recipient, and when the recipient has read it. In group chats, the marks indicate whether all its participants have received or read your messages. You can also create chat rooms and invite your friends to have a group discussion. Each time someone sends a message all members of the group receive it.
Under The Hood
WhatsApp uses Push notification technology. Even if WhatsApp is not running on your iPhone while you receive a message, the service sends you a push alert that allows you to open the message immediately. Our tests have shown that it doesn’t matter where you are and where the other user is: the delivery is instant. So you don’t have to keep the app running and eating your battery to be always online. Of course, if you want to go offline, you can disconnect the app manually. If somebody calls or writes to you at that time you’ll be notified when you get back online. This service is especially useful for international calls and chats as it charges no additional fee for international connection.
Of course, WhatsApp has a lot of additional features built around the basic ones. For example, you can mark messages as Favorites to return to them easily at any time without searching through long chats. You can share the full chat history via email.
There are also specific iOS features. All your messages and call history is stored in iCloud. You just need to activate this feature in the app’s Settings. The latest updates bring some new features. If you already use iPhone 6s or 6s Plus, you can enjoy 3D Touch support.
Is it all for free? Yes, at least for the first year you use WhatsApp. Then (as the service claims) users may have to pay $0.99 a year. Nevertheless, many users have never had to pay that fee, although they use WhatsApp much longer. Maybe this is connected to Facebook’s wish to attract more new users to WhatsApp.
Another strange but pleasant feature is the total refusal to sell ads. It’s a considered position of the developers. They preferred to make the service paid (though, as we see, they don’t insist on paying immediately). Don’t forget: since 2014 WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, and this company is rich enough to afford keeping WhatsApp free as long as it takes.
Of course, there are limitations in this service. For example, you can’t use WhatsApp to call 911 or other emergency services. We don’t note it as a fatal flaw: mobile providers in most countries allow users to call emergency even if there’s no SIM in your phone.