The most popular and successful multi-device communication platform is without question WhatsApp. More of a text messaging replacement than straight BlackBerry Messenger competitor, WhatsApp has been the number one service people rely on to communicate across iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone devices. We were sent a preview copy of the new version of WhatsApp for BlackBerry smartphones, our exclusive first look is after the break.To start, the entire app’s user interface has been refreshed, and it really looks strong. It’s clean, it’s sophisticated, and it’s one of the better interfaces on a BlackBerry product that we’ve seen. The app contains the same basic 5 tabs that you’re used to — chats, favorites, contacts, status, and settings — but it’s done in a way that feels natural and light. There’s a really intuitive context button on the right of the top tab bar, and it changes based on what tab you’re on. If you’re in the chats tab, the button changes to allow you to start a new chat, if you’re on the favorites tab, it changes to refresh favorites button, a search option on the contacts tab, add a status on the status tab, and add a friend on the settings tab.
I have noticed a couple little issues using this pre-release version on my BlackBerry 9900, though. The touch area for the tab buttons at the top of the interface are a tad small and I have tapped a contact’s name and started a chat instead of changing to the tab I aimed to switch to. Additionally, the rows that list your favorites or contacts are very narrow, and while that works fine for navigation with the trackpad, not the best possible spacing for touch selection.
All in all, the app gets a very welcome refresh, and the best multi-platform communication service gets even better. It should be available tomorrow directly from WhatsApp’s beta site, and in BlackBerry App World soon after.
“Our current UI for BlackBerry is something only an engineer could love. With this update, we’ve had a designer who has no knowledge of BlackBerry UI difficulties mock up new screens for every part of the app. It has then been our engineering challenge to make those mockups reality across the wide range of BlackBerry devices available. When we started, it looked very challenging to make these screens happen, said Michael Donohue, Senior BlackBerry Engineer of WhatsApp, This is truly a great UI for BlackBerry.”
“WhatsApp wants consumers to have the ability to message easily, intuitively to that degree we have overhauled the UI, making it simple, clean and easy to use. Our overall commitment to product quality and continued improvement to the BlackBerry is important to us, it is a great messaging device and we are fully committed to supporting the consumers who use it, said Jan Koum, CEO, WhatsApp.”