Sunday, June 10, 2012

Touch (cross phone platform chat) Application Review

I wasn't sure what to write about this week but since I had reviewed a phone cross-platform chat (instant message) application called Kik about 2 years ago (which since has undergone a lot of changes making that blog entry almost useless except as a matter of historical perspective), I decided to write about another cross-platform chat program called Touch (formerly called PingChat). As of this blog entry, the version number of Touch on the Blackberry is v3.1, on the AndroidOS is v3.1.2, and on the iOS (iPhone) platform is v3.1.2.

I was using PingChat (primarily on my Blackberry Bold 9700 but also used it on my Sumsung Nexus-S and iPhone 3GS) when they upgraded/changed their program name and revamped it almost entirely to call it Touch.

The first thing I want to mention is that even though I have the application installed on 3 different phones (running 3 different phone OSes), the program can only be active on one phone. This means that even though you can have the program installed on many different devices, you will only be able to log onto the Touch server with 1 device and chat using that 1 device. You can swap between devices by logging out of one device and logging into the other device.

I primarily use this program on my Blackberry but when I travel, because of the need of a data plan and it being somewhat difficult to get a Blackberry compatible data plan when traveling, I will use it on my iPhone 3GS or my Samsung Nexus-S.

I find that the program works relatively well and I use it to chat with my friends on the phone regardless of what  popular smartphone they use (Windows phones excluded). What I like about this chat program is that it has "read" receipts. What this means is that when you send them a message, you generally will know when they've read it because there will be a "R" next to the message after they've gone into the message.

Depending on the receiving phone model, the person can still read the message without the read receipt showing up correctly but I find it better than using the carrier's SMS where you generally don't know if the person read your message or not (or whether your message was received on their device) unless the person actually responds to your SMS text message.

Another thing that I like about Touch is that it is 100% free (except for the need of a data plan or WiFi).

I have occasionally noticed an occasional problem with Touch where the message doesn't get relayed to my phone immediately but I've only noticed this problem when I use my Blackberry and I've never noticed this problem on my iPhone 3GS or my Nexus-S. I believe that this problem on my Blackberry is due to the fact that I don't have a lot of free memory on my Blackberry Bold 9700 after I upgraded the OS from v5 to v6.

One of the things that I also use Touch for is to send an image/picture to someone in the middle of our chat session. I find that it does this relatively well.

One thing that I didn't like when PingChat became Touch was that there was no longer a way to link the addressbook contact with the Touch contact. What this means is that the name that appears on the Touch contact will be what your friend chooses and not what you want (since there is no way to rename the Touch contact either). In my opinion, this causes the Touch contact names to be inconsistent where some friends might decide to only use their initials in Touch whereas some friends might use their complete names, a made up name, a nickname, and/or a combination of these.

All in all, I'm mostly satisfied with the performance of Touch on my various devices which is why I continue to use it. It is better than using MSN Messenger or GoogleTalk on my various devices in the fact that it has read and delivery receipts. However, I still use those instant messaging programs on my phone primarily because my contacts/friends use those programs.

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