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APP SLIDESHOW: Top 5 social apps

Five apps for chatting and sharing

  • 5. Pinterest

    Cost: Free | Developer:Pinterest Inc | Tested on:iOS | Version 1.6.2 | 4.6MB Pinterest is a virtual pinboard that allows you to organise and share whatever you like. It’s a simple social network that allows people to share interesting links with one another. It’s a little like Facebook or Twitter, with a lot less inane chatter between the interesting bits. In addition to posting, you can browse the pinboards of users you follow, re-pin (Pinterest’s version of the re-Tweet), like and comment on your favourite pins, and pin directly from your camera. The app aims to offer inspiration for users through others who have similar interests. Get it here: Apple App Store
  • 4. Instagram

    Cost: Free | Developer:Burbn Inc | Tested on:iOS | Version 2.5.1 | 13.2MB Instagram allows you to take photos of a predetermined size, edit them using a few simple tools, and share them through your account for followers to see. All your photos are saved to your iPhone’s default Photos app. Likewise, you can use existing photos, which you must crop in Instagram in order to proceed. Essentially, it’s a Twitter for photos. Just like in Twitter (and Facebook), you have a feed of photos uploaded by friends, which you can ‘like’ or leave a comment on. There is also a notification system which breaks down each interaction separately. This can get a bit extensive if you have a lot of followers. Get it here: Apple App Store
  • 3. Kik Messenger

    Cost: Free | Developer: Kik Interactive | Tested on:iOS | Version 5.5.2 | 6.5MB Kik Messenger is a free cross-platform messaging service that works like the iPhone’s iMessage feature. The reason that this app is great is because it does not require you to register your phone number to use, meaning that you don’t have to distribute your personal details to individuals you don’t know well, but still wish to speak to. For example, if you’re an Instagram user like myself (or a fan of the multitude of social networks available) and you come across a great photographer or musician, you can advertise your Kik username, and chat to them in a not-so personal way. Of course, they must be Kik users too. As mentioned, the app operates like iMessage, allowing you to send text messages and photos, as well as partake in group conversations via 3G or a Wi-Fi connection. Kik runs smoothly, and operation is fast. Beside each message, the app tells you whether it has been sent ‘s’, delivered ‘d’, or read ‘r’, so you know if it has been seen or lost in translation. The app’s user interface is basic and clear. It lists all your conversations, and has a ‘compose’ feature which allows you to search the Kik database for friends’ (or photographers/artists, as in the example) names. It also has in-built settings, allowing you to adjust your push-notification preferences, and take care of your account and privacy. It even lets you change the colour of your chat bubbles. Get it here: Apple App Store
  • 2. WhatsApp Messenger

    Cost: $0.99 | Developer:WhatsApp Inc | Tested on:iOS | Version 2.8.2 | 10.7MB WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform messaging/texting app, and probably the most reliable one at that. Like its competitors, it allows you to send text messages, videos, images, and voice notes to your phone contacts, as well as initiate group conversations – with anyone in the world who is using the app. While it does require you to use your phone number (unlike Kik Messenger which gives you a username), you do not need a username or password as it works with your phone. The reason why WhatsApp has become my preferred service is due to its connectivity speed and smooth functionality. It does not experience the frustrating connection times that can be found with similar apps, and it loads, operates, sends, and receives information quickly. Get it here: Apple App Store
  • 1. Viber

    Cost: Free | Developer: Viber Media | Tested on: iOS | Version 2.2.0 | 10.6MB Viber is an essential alternative for smartphone users who don’t wish to sign up to expensive plans. The app gives users the ability to make/receive phone calls and send/receive text messages via a Wi-Fi or 3G/4G connection to/from anyone in the world using the app – all free of charge. When launched for the first time, the app requires you to select your country and input your phone number, at which point it texts you an activation code. Setup takes no more than 30 seconds. Viber is very simple and logical in design. Essentially, it merges the iOS’s Phone and Messages apps into one, and throws in a ‘more’ tab (settings) for good measure. The app is always operational. It has standard push notifications so your phone rings if you are receiving a call or text. Its producers also claim that this functionality does not drain battery. Of course, the downsides to the app are apparent. Firstly, the person you are in contact with must have an iOS/Android device and the app installed. To make life a bit easier, the settings allow you to invite friends via SMS, Facebook, Twitter, and email so they can take advantage of the service. Secondly, you must have access to a Wi-Fi connection, or plenty of 3G/4G data allowance, as well as a stable provider so you can use the service, and to avoid unbearable lag. Basically, if you have two bars, you will get annoyed. Get it here: Apple App Store
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