Android users have yet another option for data-only calls and text messages today, as BitTorrent Inc. posted an alpha version of its Bleep communication client to the Play Store. Bleep is designed to be an alternative to conventional calling and texting systems like Skype or WhatsApp, and requires no central server or service. Bleep has been invite-only since July, but now it's ready to go public. Clients are also available for Windows and OS X computers.
Don't try too hard to pitch a product. When I first came across Toymail, I thought it seemed amusing enough. Here's the concept - people (preferably parents, siblings, or friends) speak a message into an app, and that message then comes out of a kid's toy in a weird voice. There's potential for fun here. Sure, I see it. I've been a kid before.
But then I watched the promotional video.
Pinterest is all about sharing photos of things you like and browsing the great many items that other users have pinned. For such an inherently social experience, it's relatively solitary, despite people having the ability to comment on one another's pins. Users can recommend something for their friend to pin instead, but that's the social equivalent of handing someone a magazine clipping and walking away. Well, now Pinterest is reaching out to grab your shoulder so that your friend can have time to respond.
The BBM app might have made a real impact if it had arrived a few years ago, but it's not very impressive in today's Android ecosystem. However, the app is currently sitting at a very respectable 4.2 stars in Google Play. Good for BlackBerry, right? Well, maybe not. Starting on the first page there is a strange pattern of mostly 5-star reviews with identical or very similar wording. Something is fishy.
For many moons, Android users were crying out for a unified messaging solution, and Blackberry Messenger seemed like a good solution. As Android was starting to take off in late 2009, BlackBerry (at the time RIM) was already feeling pressure from the iPhone, so why not branch out and get users hooked on BBM? Perhaps management was in denial as the co-CEOs actively dismissed the clear trends in mobile around that time.
After a number of delays and an untold number of fake spam apps, BBM for Android is about to really arrive in Google Play. This will mark the first time Blackberry's premier messaging service has been available on a non-Blackberry device. You'll be able to download the app today, but you might not be able to actually use it.
BBM was leaked a few weeks back and the flood of users caused all manner of server issues for the company.
Samsung claims that it has 100 million users of its proprietary ChatON messaging service. With that many eyeballs on your software, it makes sense to give it a little spit and polish, right? To that end they've release the 3.0 version of ChatON to the Play Store, complete with a fresh Holo interface and a few more options. Those of you with Samsung devices are probably getting the update anyway, but the cross-platform chat service is available to most Android devices.
There are many VoIP clients out there for Android, such as Skype and Viber. They save users from having to place calls over their cell network, potentially using up minutes that they may not have. This behavior eats into carriers' profits, so it's no surprise that they'd prefer if we avoided putting these apps on our phones. It's more surprising, though, to hear that one carrier has chosen to make one of these apps themselves.