Beluga is a new service available for all phones with a downloadable app for iPhone and Android.
In essence it’s a messaging service that includes the ability to geotag messages and add photos. You can chat with groups of people at once in private “pods”. It’s available internationally and it’s free.
Friends are asking me why they need Beluga when they already have messaging apps. So I thought I’d blog why it’s got me hooked so quickly and, in particular, how it compares to the stuff already on your phone.
Facebook allows you to create events and send private messages to groups but the app has limited functionality so you can’t do all that from your phone. Beluga is much simpler and works from your phone.
Twitter doesn’t have group private messaging functionality. Beluga does.
3. Instant Messaging.
Instant Messaging with your client of choice (MSN, Yahoo, Skype, etc.) requires the other person to be online. With Beluga it doesn’t matter if they’re not “there” when you send them messages.
4. Text Messages.
Group messaging requires sending multiple messages. It can cost money (especially picture messaging), international friends are generally unavailable, and there’s no geotagging. Also I’ve had issues with messages being delayed. Beluga is free, global, instantaneous, built for group conversations, and has geotagging.
5. Other Mobile Apps.
Before Beluga I was using Whatsapp. It’s also apparently very similar to Blackberry’s BBM. The advantage of Beluga is it’s cross-platform so you can contact friends and family using other types of phone.
Just like text messages, you don’t need to check Beluga or log-in if you have the app. It will tell you when you’ve received a message with push notifications so you can download it and forget about it unless a friend gets in touch.
I’m using it as a replacement to texting. Quicker delivery times and I don’t need to worry about going over my text message quota per month or being charged for picture messaging.
Also I’ve got an social group chat going with three friends in the UK and one in the US.
Most useful of all is using it to ping a handful of people to arrange getting together. It allows you to add an event date, location, and time to a pod.
It does need people to download and register with the service otherwise you can’t include them in a conversation. Ignore the bad reviews in the iTunes app store, the app does work. When registering you need to enter your mobile number without the first 0. (When I registered I also added +44 and that worked for me.)
In summary, it’s a brilliantly simple replacement for texting and IMing. Unless Twitter add private group messages to their service soon I shall mostly be Belugaing!