I have always been a fan of efficiency and minimalism. There is a certain bit of freedom I feel when I can achieve these in aspects of my life. Over the last few years, I have become mildly obsessed with the concept of syncing every digital aspect of my life across all of my devices. So I chose the obvious path – moving my life to the cloud (I never thought I’d be using that phrase – gross).
From Dropbox to Google, anything I can use that allows me to sync my information to one central location on the Web, I’m in. I am the guy who owns a few Macs, two Windows desktop machines, an iPad and an iPhone. If I jump on any one of these devices and can’t access my calendar, for example, it drives me nuts. I use all of these devices, and though they run different operating systems, they all have one thing in common – access to the internet. Therefore, I have chosen to live my life in the most liberating and stress-free way, being device agnostic.
I could write about my device agnostic philosophy and cloud setup all day, but I’ll save those details for another blog post. However, one aspect of my digital life that I am yet to be satisfied with is peer-to-peer chat/text communication. There are just too many options, and none of them are very good. I’ve tried it all, starting in the early days of email, AIM and ICQ to Google Talk, Skype, Beluga and of course, SMS. They all work and all serve the same purpose – communicate with someone using text. So when I want to reach out to a buddy and tell them about an awesome new game I found, I have way too many options to accomplish the same thing.
What do I choose? I have no default. I’ll check Google Talk — nope he’s not online. Ok, I’ll send him an email. Hmm, maybe he won’t read it right away. I’ll just send an SMS. But he may have a lot to say about it and want to avoid starting a conversation over SMS. Maybe he’ll call me and give me his opinion. This is a very common process that I hate going through. Why do I have 50 options of doing the same thing? Why do I have 10 different conversations in different applications with the same person? It’s annoying. I want to fix it. And I plan to (it’s called Driip, but it doesn’t exist yet — more on that another time).
I want a new default for my text communication with others. And when I heard about Facebook revamping their chat with Skype integration and releasing a new dedicated messaging mobile app, I decided it was worth a shot.
I’ve never been a big Facebook user. But what makes Facebook most appealing? Well, love it or hate it, Facebook is the largest Social Network in the world. Everyone and their moms (literally) are on Facebook. If I want to send someone a message, chances are, I can find them on Facebook. That’s a huge plus.
Next is the Facebook/Beluga marriage known as Facebook Messenger, a new mobile app available on iPhone and Android. In case you haven’t heard, Beluga is an addicting and fantastic application built for mobile group chats – in my opinion, the best group chatting app. Facebook’s acquisition of Beluga was a huge score. Now, not only can I send messages to any friend I want, but I can also create a group for any number of Facebook friends and have a constant conversation going with them.
To make things even sweeter, Facebook’s new messenger supports SMS communication as well. If I want to contact a friend (or add them to a group) who does not have Facebook, I can add their phone number from my contact list and start a conversation. And, our conversation can continue on Facebook, even if they don’t have an account. Once they get an account, it will associate it with our conversation and we can continue seamlessly.
Best of all, it’s one chat history and it syncs properly. And, I don’t get slammed with excessive notifications. If I’m not on Facebook, by default, I don’t get phone notifications when I get hit with a chat. That makes sense. I can’t believe how many apps suck at that *cough* Twitter *cough* Skype *cough*.
So for now, the Facebook Messenger app has just replaced the SMS app on my iPhone home screen. Am I crazy? Maybe. But if I’m going to try this, I’m diving in head first. Some of you may think Facebook won by getting me to make this conversion. I don’t see it that way. I only use and support services that make my life better. And if that’s Facebook, good for them.