On Wednesday, Samsung released version 2.0 of its free ChatON cross-platform messaging app. Think of it as Samsung’s answer to iMessage, but it’s not specific to Android. While it supports Android, it also works on Samsung’s own bada platform, Samsung feature phones, iOS, Blackberry, Windows Phone, and the Web.
Version 2.0 is, as you might expect, a major update for the app. It includes cross-device syncing, multiple image messaging, new social features and enhanced support for tablets.
It’s that cross-device syncing which is seen as the biggest improvement in version 2.0. The new version allows ChatON users to chat on up to five devices, including the Web. Cross-device access includes not just the current conversation, but chat history and friend lists.
However, for tablets, the addition of push-to-talk voice messaging might be seen as the biggest improvement. Naturally, tablets don’t have the capability of making a normal phone call, although VOIP apps enable that functionality for many. Thus, this feature is a boon for some.
Samsung also added a number of other editing and settings-related changes to its tablet version to bring the user experience closer to that of smartphones.
ChatON, which had a rocky introduction, sees WhatsApp and services such as Line and WeChat as its biggest rivals. It’s also seen its rating on Google Play reach a figure of 4.1 and has somewhere between 10 million and 50 million downloads (WhatsApp, by comparison, has a 4.6 rating and between 100 million and 500 million downloads).
The changelists for the smartphone and tablet versions on Android are listed below.
- Sign in with Samsung account: All connected devices receive the same message simultaneously
- Move Special buddy to More menu
- Improvement of My Page: Multiple profile images & Comment on PostON
- Change font style of chat room
- Send multiple images at once
- Send Anicon/Animessage+text
[For tablets] ChatON Tablet v1.9.3:
- Walkie-talkie [push-to-talk]
- Improvement to My Page
- Add image effects
- Add group profile editing
- Add members of chat room as a group
- Add typing status
Samsung’s announcement said that all Samsung mobile devices have a ChatON client pre-installed, but the company apparently means going forward. A look at a Verizon Samsung Galaxy S III (upgraded to Jelly Bean, no less) shows no built-in client — but then, downloading from Google Play is no issue.