IM in South Africa is huge – It’s cheap and it’s quick. Read on to find out the in’s and out’s of 3 of the best options we have available for Android in South Africa, and why they are just as good, if not better than BBM.
IM has become increasingly popular in todays world, and has been around in South Africa for some time, thanks to the likes of Mxit. It’s inexpensive, since messages are charged per amount of data, while SMS’s are charged at a much higher rate.
Because of this, the youth in South Africa quickly took to Mxit, since it was the best and cheapest way to message their friends. Mxit grew fast, and quickly became available on a wide variety of phones. Mxit is still a popular choice amongst users today, and is still available on devices across the board, including Android. Speaking of Mxit on Android, the app has come a long way since it’s humble beginnings as a basic IM app, now offering a pleasant GUI, profiles, status messages, group chats and media exchange. It can also have it’s UI tweaked more to your tastes as well.
Google Talk has also been around for a fair amount of time, first appearing as a desktop client in the mid 2000′s. It has since also become available on a multitude of devices, and is deeply integrated as a service on Android phones, much like BBM is on Blackberries. Because of its integration with Android and Gmail, using Google Talk to get hold of someone is painless. While not offering much in the way of media exchange, it’s become indispensable, thanks to it being available on Gmail and on other OS’s.
The common connection between Mxit and Google Talk is that both can be accessed on computers, thus allowing greater reach. Ubuntu even has a client built into the OS.
A fairly newcomer to the stage, WhatsApp, has quickly become one of the more popular options, thanks to its ability to also work across platforms and run as a service. It’s very similar to BBM, with delivery and activity notifications built into the app. It can also be linked directly to your contacts, and automatically adds any contact that has WhatsApp on their device to your friend list.
BBM is a huge selling point for Blackberry – It’s a great chat client, and works effectively between Blackberry users. However, I often hear about how great it is to have a Blackberry because of BBM, because one can message for free, but one major caveat is that BBM is limited to Blackberry devices – there are no cross platform versions of BBM currently available, although this is rumoured to change, at least on mobile OS’s such as Android. But you still can’t access it from a PC client.
On my phone, I have all 3 of the above mentioned Android apps, with each one having it’s own pros and cons:
BBM – (This is here for comparative purposes):
Judging from my own personal experience, as well as the features that it offers, WhatsApp is definitely one of the best IM apps available. There are others out there that I haven’t mentioned, which offer Facebook Chat, MSN, AIM etc, but from my observances and a South African perspective, these four apps are definitely the most popular, providing the best flexibility and benefits with the least amount of hassle.