Let’s Talk

Speech or the human ability to speak is the most favorite asset of our species. However,  so far as communication is concerned speech will very soon probably take a back seat. Social media along with its tools will render speech a good to have asset and not the only prerequisite to have a conversation. I however believe in the old world charm of holding prolonged conversations over the telephone. The latter which was once considered man’s most ingenious inventions is now passé. We no longer get to hear the shrill ring of the telephone heralding news of our dear ones neither do we feel the excitement when we hear voices of people we never expected, calling to find out how we are. Now we know who is calling without even picking up the phone and also get to reject any call if we feel it is a bother to answer them. In fact, there is no need to call in the first place. We can type or even better just show up in front of the camera to say hi. That seems more interesting. Earlier, to keep in touch, just remembering the telephone number of a friend would do. Now, things are a lot more elaborate. Today we need to know their email IDs, messenger IDs, video chat IDs, Facebook profile ID, Skype IDs and a lot more. Note the use of plurals because one person may have multiple IDs and may not be limited to one.

The other day a friend of mine asked me if I am on Whatsapp. “What is that?” I asked. She was shocked and literally regarded me as a social disgrace. As usual we were having a phone conversation which my friends are forced to continue using for my sake. I belong to this generation all right but I somehow continue to enjoy the thrill of hearing my friend’s voice over the phone rather than getting a typed message from her. Anyhow, this is not supposed to be a blog on human relations (I somehow manage to turn all my blogs into one). Anyhow, I realized after that phone call that perhaps I was, unknowingly, driving myself towards social alienation. I looked around and found almost everybody talking about some new app or the other that is being used to establish communication and here I was stuck with punching numbers in the same old handset (at least I had a cell phone). I recently saw a TV commercial where a cute couple makes romantic conversations on WeChat another new messenger app. Oh my god and I still love making phone calls to my husband. There must be something wrong with me. I needed to shake myself up and get going.

As usual, I turned to my dear old friend Google and started looking around for the new kids on the block in the communication avenue. I began with the app which inspired me to begin writing this blog – WhatsApp. To start with, I liked the name as it was quite similar to the oft used expression among friends “What’s up?” Launched under the aegis of the WhatsAppsInc it is, as the name suggests, a messenger app for Smartphones which works across multiple platforms. Client softwares are available for installation on Android, Blackberry, iPhone, Nokia and Windows Phone. What’s more the messages being sent from one phone to the other and back again are at no additional cost since it uses the same data plan that you use to browse the internet. So now I can forget the hassle of spending money on sms. In effect therefore WhatsApp does to sms what Skype did to landline calls. Unlimited audio and video messages, capability to send images in addition to the normal text messages are the other goodies in the pack. How cool is that. If you don’t already have it, download it from here.

Remember the cute couple I mentioned before. While expressing their affection for each other they gave us a glimpse of yet another messenger app-WeChat. Launched by the Chinese developer Tencent Holdings, WeChat is just the right excuse to let young lovers talk their heart out. It is adorned with embellishments like broadcast messaging where one person can speak with a whole group, hold to talk voice message, image sharing as well as location and contact information sharing. This is obviously packaged with the usual facility of sending text messages. The app is available on Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, and Symbian platforms. WeChat also provides the facility to make video calls. That is an amazing way to keep in touch. You can see and hear albeit virtually. Get a glimpse of it here.

Like all things ‘i’, Apple Inc’s iMessages are intelligent, intuitive and obviously interesting. The app is available on most devices using iOS5 or later. It was first announced in the WWDC Keynote address in 2011 and was included in the iOS5 update later that year in October. It supports all the latest features including, text messaging, image sharing, group chatting and video sharing in addition to providing the read receipt functionality. This allows the sender to be able to be notified when the receiver reads the message. Another interesting feature definitely needs to be highlighted here. You may have more than one Apple devices, iMessages makes sure that you can continue your conversation across all of them. If you own an Apple device and are yet to set up iMessages know how to do it here.

This has really got me excited. Anyhow I will speak of just one more and stop. The last one on my list is ChatOn from Samsung. Well, if Apple has made it Samsung can’t be far behind can it? It’s got all the goodies right in place including the video and audio messages, image sharing and the normal text messages. However, it has added a wee bit of frills to the text messenger by adding the ability to create animated messages. Available on Android, Blackberry and iOS, the ChatOn is a free chat service allowing you to do more than just chat. Take a look at what else it offers here.

Wow! That’s a lot of learning I had to do. Good for me. At least now my friends won’t think I am a freak. Well, the list is still growing everyday as more and more newbies are joining the race to draw friends and family more and more closer. I better pull my socks up as I have miles to go now before I beep or my phone does with a new message from my friends. Till then, I guess they need to bear with my phone calls.

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