Hello brings mobile messaging to iPhones

SMS messaging is a bit of a pain. Sure, everybody with a cell phone has access to SMS, but it's a great way for cell phone providers to nickel-and-dime overzealous users. Instant messaging is a popular alternative, but it's sometimes a bit more full-featured than what people need. Ever been dragged into a chat room when push notifications are turned on? Yikes.

Enter Hello, a simple messaging app for iPhones, iPod Touches, and BlackBerries that avoids much of the tedium found in today's messaging apps. Hello sports a simple, iPhone-friendly design with an interface that people already familiar with the iPhone's SMS app should be able to jump right into.

Hello doesn't worry about screen names or account info. Instead, you have a seven digit identifier for each phone number, which you share with friends. Simple enough. The only obstacle left is to ask your friends to download and install the software.

Hello features a wide range of fairly standard instant-messaging features. Pictures can be sent in a manner similar to the iPhone's SMS app, but without the fees. Other users can be invited for group chats, and less pleasant users can be blocked with ease. Messages can not only be sent out to individual users, but the same message can be sent out to multiple users at once. Requests to chat can be accepted or rejected at will, for those times when you'd just rather not be bothered. And of course, push notifications are always there to alert you of incoming messages.

If you've ever had to deal with lousy coverage, Hello has a few tricks up its sleeve: it can cancel messages you've sent that haven't yet been received, or send out the same message to multiple users at once. If Hello detects that the phone is offline, the app will queue up all of your messages to send them out as soon as your phone's connected to the internet.

For the social networking-conscious among us, Hello supports a number of Facebook services: your Hello status can be updated live to Facebook, and the app can import all of your contacts from Facebook's address book as well as your iPhone's address book. If you're ever on the lookout for new contacts, the app keeps a copy of Facebook's list of “People You May Know” by your side.

Hello comes in two flavors; a free, ad-supported application, or a $2 version that's free of ads. The iPhone and iPod Touch versions requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later, and an Android version will be coming soon.

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