ChatON – Samsung’s multi-platform mobile instant messaging app – has finally made it’s way to devices running Windows Phone 7 and 7.5 Mango, adding Microsoft’s smartphone operating system to its list of platforms including Android, iOS, BlackBerry OS and Windows Mobile. With several players like iMessage, Whatsapp, Kik, GroupMe, Viber and Tango already in the game on WP7 amongst others, does Sammy’s offering come up to par against the competition? Let’s find out after the break.
ChatON is a phone number based chat service, meaning it identifies your user account based on your phone number rather than an email address or a user name. This model is quite popular amongst mobile devices, as it eliminates the need to register for and manage yet another username and password. Upon first use, you’ll be asked to enter and verify your number, which you can do by SMS or call. Once verified, your contact list will be scanned and any existing contacts that use ChatON will be added automatically. You can later manually add contacts by phone number by either adding them to your phone’s contact book, or from within ChatON by entering their number in the Add Buddy feature.
The main interface is quite straight-forward, showing you your buddy list, chats list and profile. In the options, you can sort your contacts by how you interact with them, broadcast a message to all your contacts, create groups of your contacts and even start a group chat, which is one of the app’s killer features. The chat list lets you keep track of all your conversations in an inbox-like view, and the ‘my page’ screen is your profile where you can add a picture, edit your full name, update a status message and show your birthday. You can also see messages left by your buddies about you in the ‘Buddies say’ section, and an Interaction rank feature that lets you rank your buddies and get ranked based on how often you interact with them.
Of course, the chat mode is where all the action takes place. You can send plain text messages, emoji, attachments and even animated messages, a few of which are included by default, with options available to create your own if you want. You can even add others to the conversation for a group chat – a feature lacking in most similar apps.
A unique feature of ChatON is the Trunk – a dedicated virtual suitcase for all file transfers that take place with a particular contact or group of contacts. You can access it by tapping the briefcase icon in the top-right of every conversation window. This can come really handy for keeping record of and having quick access to all the images and videos you have shared with someone. What’s more, everyone in the conversation can even comment on each file in the Trunk!
In the settings, you can change the app’s skin from several different options for background as well as chat bubble styles, select a font size that’s easily readable for you, sync your contacts with ChatON servers, select whether to use your location with ChatOn, and enable/disable push notifications. You can also manage privacy settings including blocking unwanted users, manage certain interactions that you have hidden from the main view, and also select which contacts you want to allow the‘Buddies say’.
All in all, ChatON has several features such as group chat, Trunk, privacy and filtration options, attachment commenting etc. that set it apart from most similar apps and services and give it an edge over the competition. Since it’s available on most smartphone platforms now, there isn’t a reason why you shouldn’t give it a shot. If Samsung just adds free voice clips support, ChatON will definitely be the best app in its class. Go one step further and add Viber and Tango-like free voice call support and Sammy’s clearly got a winner! Though despite the lack of these, it still stands out as it is.
Update: ChatON is now available for all Windows Phone devices. We’ve added a link for the universal app below.