PingChat is a free app for iOS, Blackberry and Android phones. Messages, photos, etc. sent using PingChat are free as long as your phone has a data plan or WiFi.
Although their feature list says it works on all phones, that’s not really the case as some BB models can’t use the app as well as some Verizon phones. It won’t work with my Windows Phone 7 phone either and their FAQ says they have no plans to develop for WP7.
I can see this app attracting a younger crowd – perhaps kids and teens with a limited texting plan because this app won’t count against their text limits. Other features are Group Chat, Push Notification (you get notified when new messages arrive), full media support for voice, text, pictures and videos and the app is always on. This is nice because you don’t have to sign in or wait for your friends to sign in –you’re always on and available. I also read that they have a location based service – for letting all your friends know where you are.
To use PingChat, you’ll have to sign up for an account – since it doesn’t use your phone number, you’ll choose an ID/identity. After you’ve done this, you’ll have to share your user name with anyone you’ll want to interact with. After you get your friends entered in, then you’ll have a cool looking UI like the screenshot below.
I think kids could pick up on how to use the app quickly. There’s very little documentation – in fact there’s really just the Support link which takes you to a FAQ where you can hope your questions and answers are. If you don’t find your particular problem there, there is an email option.
It may be worthwhile to note that if you change phones, you’ll need to ‘release’ your ID from your old phone before being able to restore it on your new phone. If you forget, support will release it for you. You won’t be able to transfer or download any of your chat history either—something to keep in mind.
I’m not sure how long they’ve been around, but Enflick (developers of PingChat), mentioned in a recent blog article that they have 5.5 million users.
I wasn’t able to try it out since I switched phones, but a friend told me about PingChat and she likes the interface and the fact that it’s free.If you’re interested in trying it out, go to the website and send a link to your phone and invite a few people to try it out with you. It might be a nice way to have instant communication with a close group of friends.