If you have managed to get your hands on a shiny iDevice and you are looking for a great way to stay in contact with friends, it’s hard to look any further than PingChat!. Developed by Enflick Inc and subsequently released for iOS, Android and Blackberry, PingChat! is a cross platform messenger that oozes with simplicity.

Getting started couldn’t be any easier and you require only an imagination and a unique username to get yourself up and running. Chatting is as simple as entering a friends ID, typing a message and hitting send, with the longest part of the process being waiting for a reply. The UI is very sleek and nicely laid out with all of the basic features you would expect from an iOS application available to you. Holding you finger over a message will allow you to copy it, whilst tapping your phones status bar will take you back to the start of a conversation. Specific messages can be edited easily with the push of a button, or a single swipe will delete an entire conversation. With just a few clicks, a multitude of media can be sent over both 3G and Wi-Fi including photos and video, voice memos, contacts and locations.

If PingChat! is unavailable or you are in an offline area, your message will be stored and sent to your device at a later time. Familiar iOS push notifications and a badge on the apps icon will alert you of new messages received. PingChat! will also give you confirmation of delivery in the form of a small tick next to your sent messages when they have arrived on a friends device. Since version 2.2 clicking on the contacts button brings up an entirely new menu from which you can invite your current Ping ID’s to be buddies and create yourself a profile.

PingChat! is both free to download and free to use as it takes advantage of your current data plan. With no monthly costs and no added roaming charges this is an application that can be used anytime and anywhere around the world to contact your friends.

Unfortunately it’s not all good news. Push notifications can be a bit hit and miss and sometimes arrive much later than an actual message, other times not arriving at all. I have also encountered a problem in back and forth IM style conversations, were I don’t receive messages unless I close and re-open the app. Since your unique username is linked directly to your device, there isn’t a current system in place to take it with you when you upgrade your handset. You can remedy this by unregistering your current ID in the settings menu and quickly re-registering the same ID on you new device, but it’s hardly ideal. Profiles are currently limited to a display picture, a display name and a status update.

In Conclusion

PingChat! is a very good iPhone app that covers up its minor flaws with its extreme usefulness. The absence of dealing with multiple logins and friend requests makes it far more appealing than an instant messaging client and you can begin chatting within seconds. Enflick has promised more updates in the future and planned additions include adding even more information to your profile as well as being able to block messages from unwanted users.