What a difference a name makes. Believe it or not, until today, I really didn’t know what Whatsapp was.
So for all those other dinosaurs out there, here’s my definition of Whatsapp and messaging in general:
It’s instant messaging, but for your phone!
-blush- I know, I know. I feel so dumb, don’t rub it in… But you see, all the hype made me think messaging was something new. It’s not. IM, or instant messaging has been around on the computer for a very long time.
“But what is it?” you say.
On the computer, instant messaging is like making a phone call with your eyes instead of your ears. You and the person you are ‘talking’ to are connected in real time, and you type messages back and forth, also in real time. So you are having an ‘instant’ conversation using text instead of voice.
Compare this to email which is like sending a letter that the recipient receives instantly, but may not read [or reply] to until some time later.
I can’t remember when I first started using instant messaging, but I know I was using it daily by 2001. I stopped using it daily when I started receiving massive phone bills [I didn’t know that I would be slugged with a massive data surcharge].
Fast forward to the mobile era and ‘lo, smartphones have apps [a sexy word for a program] which can do instant messaging like computers but on the go. Instead of talking to someone on your contact list, or sending them a text [which is like a teeny tiny email that may or may not be read straight away], messaging apps allow smartphone users to text back and forth in real time.
“But why message when you can talk?”
Okay, I’m not completely sure of the answer to this one, but I think it has something to do with cost. Voice calls cost a certain amount of money. SMS text messages also cost money but less than voice calls, so my guess is that messaging costs less again.
The reason I’m so hesitant about the cost is because Australia is very different to the US. I believe that in the US, data [i.e. SMS and messaging etc] is practically unlimited so messaging is a satisfying and cheap alternative to voice calls.
Here in Australia, however, we have to pay for our data. I’m with Virgin Mobile and from memory I have 1.5 GB of free data included [per month]. Any usage above that incurs a cost. As I know how easy it is to use up 1.5 GB of data, I try not to use data at all – hence my lack of knowledge about messaging. And yes, I could upgrade to a better plan, but that would be an added cost on top of the money I already spend getting internet access for the computers in our house.
To be brutally honest, I’d rather play FFXIV and have access to the internet on my computer with its lovely big screen and decent speakers than ‘chat’ with you on my smartphone.
And that is why I didn’t know that Whatsapp is just an instant messaging program – because it’s designed for phones not computers.
So there you have it, a dinosaur’s eye view of Whatsapp.:)