By default, the iPhone and other iOS devices come with the iMessage app installed. This application, as its name states, allows iOS device owners to send messages to other users who own Apple devices. However, there are other applications in the App Store that provide iOS device owners with other features, like being able to message people who don’t have a device made by Apple.
Of all these, WhatsApp is by far the most known one. So let’s take a look at how WhatsApp and iMessage compare on the iPhone besides the obvious differences between them.
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As is expected from a native Apple app, iMessage performs admirably on the iPhone and integrates seamlessly with other Apple devices. This includes both the iPad and the iPod Touch (running iOS 6 or higher), as well as Macs running the latest version of OS X. This is perhaps one of the biggest advantages that Apple’s offering has over WhatsApp, which so far only runs on the iPhone.
iMessage sports a very simple interface, with no more than a list of your past and current conversations, a search field and the active messaging screen that you use to write new messages. You can also delete or share entire conversations or individual messages if you like. Additionally, you can send images and small videos via iMessage, although the sharing capabilities are limited in Apple’s native messaging app.
One aspect of sharing image and video files where iMessage handily beats WhatsApp though, is in its integration with other native apps. So if you want to, say, share some photos from the Photos app, iMessage will show right up there among the main choices to do so.
Without a doubt, the main advantage of WhatsApp for iPhone ($0.99) is that it is readily available across a wide selection of smartphones, including Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone and even some Nokia/Symbian phones. This makes it possible for you to communicate with virtually anyone regardless of their smartphone of choice. On the downside though, the app is not available for either the iPad or the iPod Touch, and you can only get it running there by jailbreaking your iOS device.
On the usability side of things, WhatsApp is a far more powerful app than iMessage, allowing you to view your friends’ status, send group messages and share more than just images and videos.
The app also carries a series of pre-defined messages that you can just tap to send them instantly. On top of that, the app’s settings allow you to tweak some of your chat settings and even set your status for others to know if they can contact you freely or not.
All in all, WhatsApp is the more complete alternative for messaging with literally anyone if you don’t mind not being able to do so from iOS devices other than your iPhone. It’s lack of integration from external apps is disappointing, although not that much if you only text your contacts. iMessage’s big flaw on the other hand is its lack of support for other operating systems, but if everyone you message with already owns an Apple device, it is definitely the most convenient way to send messages, since you can send and receive them even from your Mac too.