Kik Messenger vs. Ping Chat

When it comes to cheap I’m pretty much the definition word, so when I heard that there were options out there that would allow me to lower my text messaging plan to either the lowest, or nothing, I had to see what it was all about. I currently have an iPhone 4 on AT&T and have had every version of it aside from the iPhone 3G (I went from the original straight to the 3GS). If you’re on AT&T you know that the text messaging plans are absolutely ridiculous compared to some of the other carriers so there was no way I was about to spend $20+ a month on unlimited texts so I opted for the $5 plan which gets me 200 in/out texts. I figured this would be enough for the occasional text I would send, along with the random ones people would send me since even though it’s out of your control, AT&T still charges you for incoming texts… As time went on I realized that maybe 200 wasn’t enough, but I really didn’t want to spend the money to upgrade to the next level so I tried to come up with a creative solution.

Google Voice was announced and I jumped in the beta, I thought maybe this would be a good way to get free texts to my phone, but having to give everyone a separate texting number would have been a pain in the ass (I would know, I had a sidekick for just texting awhile back), then I discovered Ping Chat. Ping Chat was only available on the iPhone, but it allowed for iPhone-to-iPhone messaging similar to BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). I managed to get a few friends onto Ping, but not everyone I talked to had an iPhone so that wasn’t going to work too well, but it at least cut out a few people I would have to pay to text.

Soon after downloading Ping Chat I heard rumblings that they were working on an Android app, which would be cool except most of my friends had Blackberrys or iPhones, not Android phones (at the time), so it wasn’t going to help… until they announced their Blackberry app. With Ping Chat now on all 3 major phone operating systems I finally thought this would work. I setup my girlfriend’s Blackberry Tour with Ping and things were working fine… for a while. Ping seemed to have a lot of problems with message delivery and the app was really slow. I defended it for a while, but as of late I just started to give up. The iPhone app is extremely slow to open sometimes and the Blackberry app is extremely slow, message delivery and notifications on both the iPhone and the Blackberry seem to be hit or miss and I just haven’t been happy with it. It seems like Ping grew too big too fast and tried to make all of their users happy by jamming as many features into the app as they possibly could without first making sure the app ran smooth and did what it was intended to, send messages. Luckily there was another player emerging in the market…

I just learned about Kik over the weekend, but I’m already in love with it over Ping Chat. It doesn’t have all the fancy features that Ping Chat does; it can’t send pictures, video, location, music, etc… basically just does texting, but it has speed and reliability going for it, which is all I need. A lot of the iTunes reviews for Kik mention that it’s lacking features and isn’t as good as Ping or Whatsapp, etc, but when it comes down to it I just need an app that WORKS, not one that has all these fancy features. I do like the fact that Kik tells you when a message was Sent, Delivered and Read so I can tell if people are ignoring me or just didn’t get the message. I know Ping Chat has started building this functionality into their app, but it doesn’t always work right… Kik also tells you when the other person is typing which is nice.

Overall I was a huge fan of Ping, but as I said they seem to have tried to jam too many features into an app that doesn’t have the infrastructure to handle the growth. I think Kik is a much better platform to build off of and it can only get better when they decide to add picture messaging, etc. So right now if you’re looking for a BBM-style messenger that can communicate between Blackberry, iPhone and Android phones I would choose Kik.

Update: Slight issue with Kik on my girlfriend’s Blackberry Tour… it drains the battery extremely fast. I hope they resolve this issue soon because a lot of my friends have gotten the app in the past 2 days and I’d really like my girlfriend to continue using it…