We only need one universal messaging app

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| May 29, 2013

We have all probably used one at one point in time: BlackBerry Messenger, iMessage, GTalk, Live Messenger… all four popular ‘free messaging’ apps that come from four major platforms.  We use them because the messages travel faster and more conveniently than traditional SMS or MMS would. How many times have you tried to send a cool picture to your best bud and ended up waiting several minutes just to have it fail, or sometimes not even be sent at all? With designated messaging apps it all changed – things seamlessly went through.

BlackBerry Messenger really started it all. As a prime phone for businesses, BlackBerry was the forefront of mobile computing in the corporate world. As such, there was little room for error, and with demanding time constraints it made sense to designate a more reliable network for communicating with each other – thus, BlackBerry Messenger.

And then you have iMessage, Apple’s version of BlackBerry Messenger.  iMessage is somewhat on the same wavelength of BBM in the fact that it serves as a more reliable method to share messages and information with each other than SMS, but it shouldn’t be a question in anybody’s mind that has used both of these applications that BBM certainly has a leg up on iMessage when it comes to depth of the application. Regardless, both methods of “premium” messaging services are iconic in their own ways and still serve a large purpose in both platforms.

The initial design of these applications were to entice users to get their friends to buy these phones to take advantage of the “free” messaging system (when varying text message/no text message plans were the norm), but as we move on to other premium messaging apps like Google Hangouts and Windows Live Messenger we start to lose sight of that exclusivity to the platform and instead start seeing the benefits of the bigger picture: universal usage.

Even though Google Hangouts is only available for Android and iOS at the moment, and Live Messenger is only available for BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone 7 and 8 (previously on iOS and Android) there’s still more involvement going on between these two messaging apps than iMessage and BBM; however, it seems that the latter two want to get in on the multiplatform action as we anticipate the arrival of BBM on iOS and Android this summer, and the recent interview with Tim Cook of Apple hints at the fact that Apple isn’t exactly opposed to offering Apple apps on other platforms at some point, either. Good? Bad? That’s up to you to decide.

Quite frankly, it all makes my head spin thinking about downloading all of those different messaging apps. How many is that?

BBM, iMessage, Google Hangouts, and SMS. That’s five different messaging services in five separate areas on the phone. Wouldn’t it make sense just to roll them all into one? Like a big ol’ multiplatform group hug. Awww.

I suppose having all of these messaging apps stay on separate applications wouldn’t be as bad on a platform like webOS, which featured the ever-so-useful multitasking feature with cards; but on platforms like iOS and Android it would probably be a pain in the beehive to switch from one app to the other.

Another option would be to make it so that all of these messaging services could be integrated through the SMS app of each respective platform. Simply choose whichever one you are trying to connect with in a dropdown menu in whatever messaging app you’re using and switch it up as you need to – or, you know, something like that. Just make it simple and “together”. I’m not a huge fan of having multiple apps that do the same thing, so if it means I’m going to have to cut ties with my iMessage friends when I switch platforms, then so be it; I’ve already done so with BBM and although I do miss some of the features it’s not ruining my life. After all, we do still have SMS.

But it would still be cool if we could all get along just this once and mash everything together. You know, for the sake of convenience.

Readers, what are your thoughts? Would you prefer it if all of these premium messaging platforms we know in love would come together and form one great messaging app, or do you hope to keep them separate? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Images via Forbes, CNet