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Samsung ChatON - First Look

Samsung's new Chat ON app is a free instant- messaging service for Android phones running version 2.2 or later. Available in the Android Market (http:// bit.ly/chaton278) and in Samsung's own download store, ChatON has one of the most daunting pre-installation warnings that we’ve seen for any app. It requires access to your contact lists, calendar, text messaging and phone-calling facilities, as well as a host of other functions on your T-Mobile Android phones. We can vouch for its trustworthiness, but it's still a little off-putting. Installation is fairly quick, but you'll need to enter your phone number to verification code texted to you before you can begin setting up your own profile.

You'll also have to build up your list of contacts (or 'buddies', as Samsung puts it) from scratch, entering the phone number and name of each buddy, which takes a frustratingly long time. If you want to contact someone using the ChatON app, they'll also need to have it installed on their Android phone. To help with this, Samsung has included a tool that lets you tell your contacts about ChatON via email, text, Twitter, Facebook and a variety of other means. Once you and your friends have the app set up, chatting to each other is fairly get a straightforward, whether it’s one-to-one or in a group.

You can send each other images from your own gallery or from the templates included within the app. There's also a video tool, though it doesn't let you chat to someone in real-time. Instead, it lets you record a short video and send it to your friend to watch. Despite its many drawbacks, ChatON is easy and fun to use. Once the iPhone and BlackBerry versions are launched later this year, its appeal will grow as an instant-messaging app that can work across different phone platforms. That said, Facebook Messenger (www.facebook .com/mobile/messenger) can already be used on Android, iPhone and BlackBerry, and it has your contact information set up and ready to go. So, for the time being, ChatON comes a poor second.