This Week's Sponsor:


Ensure that if a device isn’t secure it can’t access your apps.  It’s Device Trust for Okta.

Free and Integrated

Impressive milestone reached by WhatsApp, a free cross-platform messaging solution for iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Nokia phones: [via Ben Brooks]

Coinciding with our planet crossing the 7 billion population mark this week, last week WhatsApp crossed its own milestone for the first time by sending just over 1 billion messages in a single day. Similar to the awe we feel that our planet will now hold over 7 billion people, all of us at WhatsApp are extremely humbled and excited about the future.

I’ve been using WhatsApp for quite some time to communicate for free – even though I have a pretty good text messaging plan with my carrier – with my girlfriend and some close, non-tech savvy friends (who, however, are tech savvy enough to buy apps). WhatsApp sends free messages, but it’s a $0.99 app on the App Store. Ever since the release of iOS 5, I’ve deleted WhatsApp from my iPhone because my girlfriend and those friends have upgraded their iPhones to iOS 5, thus getting the benefits of iMessage.

I have many friends who don’t use and don’t even like iPhones. But going through my Address Book today – trying to figure out how many people are using iMessage – it’s amazing to see how every iPhone user I know has upgraded to iOS 5, and how other people I didn’t know had iPhones (or iPads, or iPods) are now “turning blue” when creating a new message. Put simply: there’s a lot of iMessage going on in my Address Book.

I’m sure WhatsApp will continue to prosper, add features and bet on its cross-platform nature. Keep in mind that BlackBerry users already have BBM, iOS users have iMessage, and Google-loving Android folks are probably using the native Google+ app for some occasional free messaging. Tools like WhatsApp – and WhatsApp is admittedly the most popular “third-party free messaging app” out there – clearly still have a market when it comes to cross-platform. They’re great if you message with a lot of friends using different phones.

But I’m thinking about people who know their friends are using iPhones, and engage in conversations with them on a daily basis. Free, native and integrated beats “free and third-party” any time for the majority of users when it comes to iOS-to-iOS communication. And it’s not like iOS-to-iOS messaging is a rare scenario nowadays, with over 250 million iOS devices out there and quite possibly a large percentage of them being iOS 5-enabled (iOS 5 runs on the older iPhone 3GS, iPod touch 3rd and 4th generation). iMessage works on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. It’s free and supports text and media. Apple has got a few minor issues to iron out, but there’s no doubt the system has been working well for most users since its release two weeks ago. This should explain my friends’ excitement in upgrading to iOS 5, and my surprise in discovering several new iMessage users in my Address Book.

There’s difference between “free and third-party” and “free and integrated”: whereas free services may have a big initial bang but often fail to make real money in the long term, Apple can leverage free iMessages – integrated in the native messaging experience – to sell more devices. iMessage is just one of the features that will make people think “Maybe I should get an iPhone” – but it’s a powerful one. “Free messages between iPhone users” is something even my mom immediately understood.

Frictionless integration. Let’s check back on third-party messaging apps in six months.

Unlock More with Club MacStories

Founded in 2015, Club MacStories has delivered exclusive content every week for over six years.

In that time, members have enjoyed nearly 400 weekly and monthly newsletters packed with more of your favorite MacStories writing as well as Club-only podcasts, eBooks, discounts on apps, icons, and services. Join today, and you’ll get everything new that we publish every week, plus access to our entire archive of back issues and downloadable perks.

The Club expanded in 2021 with Club MacStories+ and Club Premier. Club MacStories+ members enjoy even more exclusive stories, a vibrant Discord community, a rotating roster of app discounts, and more. And, with Club Premier, you get everything we offer at every Club level plus an extended, ad-free version of our podcast AppStories that is delivered early each week in high-bitrate audio.

Choose the Club plan that’s right for you:

  • Club MacStories: Weekly and monthly newsletters via email and the web that are brimming with app collections, tips, automation workflows, longform writing, a Club-only podcast, periodic giveaways, and more;
  • Club MacStories+: Everything that Club MacStories offers, plus exclusive content like Federico’s Automation Academy and John’s Macintosh Desktop Experience, a powerful web app for searching and exploring over 6 years of content and creating custom RSS feeds of Club content, an active Discord community, and a rotating collection of discounts, and more;
  • Club Premier: Everything in from our other plans and AppStories+, an extended version of our flagship podcast that’s delivered early, ad-free, and in high-bitrate audio.