The iPhone and iPod Touch application store just got bigger and better. Ping! is a new service emulating the BBM feature of Blackberrys. The idea is simple: instead of using SMSs which are costly across borders, and instead of using an IM (like Skype, MSN, etc.) which are standalone applications, require you to log in and out, and eat away the already deficient battery, Ping! gives you free instantaneous iPhone to iPhone messaging.
If you download the application, you choose a username, and that will be your identification. When you would like to send a message to anyone with Ping! installed anywhere in the globe, you will be using an interface that is just like that of the SMS, but instead of typing in the phone number, you’ll punch in the name. The message gets sent immediately, and the recipient receives an instant notification that he or she has a message waiting for him to read (just like an SMS).
What happens is that you are not charged by your carrier, because the message is sent using the network’s 3G (or whichever internet connection your are on). Since the message is simple text, the bytes sent are minimal, and thus the cost is close to nothing. After that, instead of having an IM open, you have this application running, but it does not consume any resources. It’s sole function is to provide you with a “push” notification as soon as a message is received. Therefore, you’re not charged for an SMS, using minimal iPhone (or iPod Touch with wifi) resources, and you exchange messages that are identical to SMSs, but are absolutely free!
It was quite the genius idea behind the Blackberry, and it was anything but a bad one to bring the same technology to the iPhone. The application is currently free (for a limited time), and is not expected to be too pricey when it goes commercial. Wouldn’t be nice to have the same technology, but applied to VOIP, allowing users to make free calls at anytime, anywhere in the world? Perhaps only a matter of time.
UPDATE: Credit to my good friend Reem Abulleil for bringing the subject to my attention, and recommending me to write up a post about it. You can visit her Tennis Blog, TV Blog, or follow her on Twitter: @ReemAbulleil.