Monday, October 17, 2011

Samsung's ChatON Is Good, But Not Good Enough

A few days ago, Samsung started ChatON, and made it available on Android. Servers were totally overloaded, and I waited for hours to get a verification code. Resending resulted in old codes coming in one after another. After over 30 codes I got the right one. Launch: Fail.

Other than that, I was very enthusiastic about ChatON. A service like WhatsApp or KakaoTalk, in the hand of such a big company, pre-installed on all Samsung devices and available for Android, iOS and Desktop. This could be huge.
I had the idea of an App simple like WhatsApp, and integrated like GTalk, usable by doing... well, nothing!

Unfortunately, I was disappointed quite quickly. After the code activation, a friend of mine did not show up, but he already had his app installed and running. I got a number, saying there is 1 new friend, but no friends in the list. After some hours, he magically appeared.
Then for the chat. Nice. Funny. And you can embed your own background image. You can send your location, record/send video and audio, and an animated message which crashed permanently on my Nexus S, so I couldn't try it out. Other than that, the handling of videos and audio, pictures and contacts are nicely made. Calender-entries of the default calender were not found on my Nexus S again. Bug #xxx.

Almost anything, you can do with GTalk/GMail combination which is already installed on any Android-device and with some limitations, usable on iOS, too. So the only reason left is the handling of offline messages. You do not have to care if someone is online or not. Just send it, it will get delieverd.
But that alone is not worth the hefty 11.35MB installed, without the option to move to the SDCard.

This chat-service could have been great. It's not, imho, at launch. So, I will give it some time and come back to it, later. But to be honest, for a new messaging-service, a bad start is the worst thing, and I really can't see this going anywhere.

Google just need to add offline-messaging, and a share-function for multimedia content. It would be easily to identify users with their phone number like WhatsApp or ChatON, to make it a hassle-free SMS-replacement. And I'm quite sure, sooner or later, Google will do that.