Interesting random stuff

5 alternatives to Whatsapp

Now that Whatsapp is part of Facebook, some might feel a bit exposed using it. But I wouldn’t worry about Facebook doing something with their chat conversation data. I would worry more about the fact that it has been known to have very weak security.

Also last weekend, after the Facebook purchase, the service had a major fail. I had several friends going back to SMS messages to communicate.

So for those cases, here are 5 alternatives to Whatsapp in case you don’t like it, don’t trust it or when it fails:

### Line

line logo

Besides normal chat like Whatsapp, Line offers free video and voice calls. It has emoji like Whatsapp plus stickers, and you can also send location, photos, videos and voice messages in the chat stream. Another plus with Line is that it has a desktop client, so you can reply and continue your conversations on your desktop while doing other things, instead of having to reach your phone every time.

Download Line

### Viber

viber logo

Viber also supports emoji, stickers (and you can download extra ones if you need), and like Whatsapp it supports group messages with up to 100 members. Besides texts, Viber only supports voice calls. Like Line, it also has a desktop client. Oh, and they explicitly say they value your privacy.

Download Viber

### Telegram

telegram logo

When Whatsapp went down, Telegram signed up 5 million new users. This app is getting more popular every day.

Telegram supports group chats with a maximum of 200 members. You can share photos and any other media, and videos up to 1Gb. The most unique feature of Telegram is Secure Chats. These chats have end-to-end encryption and they claim are not logged in the chat servers. Also you can set them to auto delete themselves after certain time on both ends.

They also claim to be concerned about your privacy and security and they show it with their features. They also claim to never disclose data to third parties.

The interface is very similar to Whatsapp if you’re migrating from that. The downside is that it doesn’t support voice or video chats. It supports emoji but no stickers like other clients and no desktop client either. Although you can install it on a tablet, it lacks a tablet design.

Download Telegram

### Skype

skype logo

Well, we all know Skype by now. It supports chats with very limited emoticons, no emoji or stickers. You can send files but not share pictures easily in the chat timeline. The advantage of Skype is its large user base and its voice and video chats. And if you have skypeout or similar you can have an additional phone number to receive calls on any device.

Download Skype

### Google Hangouts

hangouts logo

Hangouts is Google’s chat client replacing Google Talk. It supports voice and video chats, emoji, photos and location (no videos or voice messages for now). It has a desktop client (actually a Chrome extension) so you can continue your chats anytime your browser is open, or you can do it while having your Gmail or Google+ window open. Like Google+ in the social media landscape, Google Hangouts is a late-comer into the mobile messaging world and it has slowly been adopting features from its competitors. But since it has the Gmail user base behind it and every new Android phone seems to have Hangouts included, it is slowly gaining popularity and it is very likely that your friends already have it, ready to receive your messages in case other services are unavailable.

Download Hangouts

If your concerns are more into the privacy and security area, I recommend you to read my post about secure communication apps.

GNU/Linux Free Software & Open Source personal

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Limited Edition at Google I/O 2011

I got the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Limited Edition at Google I/O in May. Its now mid September and I’ve been wanting to give it some use before giving an opinion about it and review it.

### The technical aspects ###

– Big display of 10.1 inches.
– Its got a fast processor, applications and games run very well.
Honeycomb is a nice operating system.
I couldn’t imagine this device with the Samsung Touchwiz that comes in the Galaxy S phones and the previous tablet. Its horrible! This one came originally with 3.0, which crashed applications frequently and had some bugs like not being able to change the clock’s timezone after setup. Now I understand they come with 3.1 by default. I’ve done the upgrade and its a lot more stable and smooth.
– 32GB internal memory, but no expansion slots.

One feature that I haven’t heard much talking about is that Honeycomb has a very nice security feature: it allows you to encrypt the whole tablet. I hope this feature makes it into Ice Cream Sandwich because its a lot more needed on the phone. I guess loosing the phone is more common that loosing a tablet.

### The uses ###

So far I’ve used it to watch videos on Youtube, playing Angry Birds and trying out some other games since the screen size is a lot more comfortable for gaming. I’ve been using it a lot for reading links from social networks, blogs and generally all my RSS feeds. It has become my casual browsing and social media device. With its big screen size and low weight its ideal for “couch computing”.

I bought a small generic base for it and some cheap desktop logitech speakers to put it in the kitchen counter to listen to music or watch and hear conferences, videos and South Park episodes while cooking or washing dishes.

### Apps ###

Although there are still many apps that haven’t upgraded their interfaces for tablet display using the latest Android toolkit, the ones that do look great. Here are the apps I’ve been frequently using on my tablet:

Plume for Twitter updates
Pulse for news and RSS feeds
– Gmail, this app has been optimized to look beautiful in the tablet
– Google+ is not optimized for tablets but its UI layout is okay
Mustard for my microblogging updates is not optimized for tablets
– Google Music in combination with external speakers or my home theater its a great music listening device
– Google Talk, video chatting from the tablet is very comfortable and handy
– Youtube
– Google Reader with its recent tablet layout version is now much more enjoyable to use

### The downsides ###

– Known factory defect of the corner glue. Haven’t heard of the issue on the new retail models.
– Lack of apps optimized for Honeycomb and general tablet layout
– Low sound
I don’t know if this is true to all android devices or just Samsung ones, but when I use external speakers with the Galaxy Tab 10.1 or my Samsung Galaxy S phone, the max volume is still low (even more with Flash videos) compared to when I plug in an iPhone or iPod device (even with Rockbox) on the same speakers.

### Final thoughts ###
I’m glad to have it. I like playing with it and having it around, its a handy device, but it is not a computer. I wouldn’t spend that much money for a gadget like this, but my mexican economy is not the same as the one from a “developed” country. But even then, gadgets here in Mexico cost twice as much (the first galaxy tab is $800 USD plus a two year contract).

I hope in the future prices will drop to netbook level prices (~$300 USD) and more interesting apps emerge optimized or made specifically for tablets on the android platform.

Do you have an android tablet device? I’d like to know how other people are using their tablets and what apps they recommend to get the most out of it.