*Pinch* Messenger profess to have the following features:
- Pinches- Message using 475+ emoticons and 3D animations. Share pictures.
- People- Pinch friends everywhere.
- Places- Locate friends nearby on maps using location pins. Get directions to meet them. Register places traveled. Share social updates on the move.
- Play- Discover new dimensions to messaging with points, pins, medals on leader-boards.
- Pay Nothing- Send millions of messages without SMS/ MMS/ roaming charges.
- Cross- platform- Sends SMS to contacts that do not have Pinch client.
When I was looking through the list of apps that I could possibly review for the WP7, I was very excited to see *Pinch* because I was looking for apps that I would be able to use on a daily basis. Seriously, the basic concept behind *Pinch* is amazing. *Pinch* was marketed as a messaging app that is cross-platform thus making all my contacts “pinchable”, uses 3G data so that I would not have to pay for SMS charges if I have a 3G mobile plan and it even comes with photo-sharing and location sharing functions!
It is with ill-concealed excitement that I downloaded this app and proceeded to “pinch” my friends.
After using the app for all of 60 minutes for the first time, I have made my judgement on the app. Sadly, it is not a good one. All that excitement that I felt in anticipation of finding a revolutionary messaging platform vanished. It is true what they say “the more you expect, the more disappointed you will be”. *Pinch* was literally a pain to use (pun intended). It is a product that is crippled because of the poor execution and frustrating overall user experience.
So *Pinch* is a messaging app but surprisingly, it is this main core function that I have the most problems with. The user interface for messaging is quite unfriendly. Messages are displayed in a thread format, which is increasingly becoming the new standard for smart-phone messaging, but this feature is rendered useless because once you hit the reply button, all prior messages disappear upwards and you are left staring at a measly one lined bar in which you type in your reply. I probably should mention that if you are one to lose your train of thought when messaging, you should plan your reply such that it take up just one bar length because any longer, you would lose sight of anything that you just typed. There seemed to be no way to scroll and reread the whole message before sending it too!
For the purposes of testing *Pinch* out fully, I had my friend install it on his iPhone (no bias, it just happened that he was using an iPhone) too and we communicated. I noticed that the messaging interface was different on his phone and he had gripes about it too but that is Apple and we are focusing on WP7. Sending emoticons from my phone, I felt limited by the selection and I was also disappointed that the various emoticons show up differently on different platforms. It annoys me that I do not have control over the exact content that I chose to send because the replication of the content varies. I tried to “pinch” my other line that is not connected to a 3G network and after three failed attempts, I conclude that “pinching” across platforms has its limitations.
*Pinch* Messaging is launched as a fully functional app in June this year, or so I was led to believe. My user experience could not be more different. For one, the app crashes repeatedly on me for no apparent reason. I would open the app, wait for it to take forever to load, and find myself staring at the “Start” screen of the WP7 again. Secondly, the notification number located on the Live tile purportedly shows the new updates but they are not accurate and the source of the new update is not clearly indicated. Thirdly, sending of texts and everything else also has a high probability of failing… The user experience really leaves much to be desired- my friend whom I was “pinching” actually remarked that the current *Pinch* felt more like a beta version than a finished product that is ready to be released to the general consumers.
- Entirely revamp the messaging interface (could make the “send” button more prominent, increase the size of the messaging bar, making sure that at least the previous message be on screen to capitalise on the thread format of messages)
- Have a separate “Updates” menu for all incoming notifications or updates
- Debug app to solve problem of frequent crashing
- Review the cross-platform “pinching” function
Overall, *Pinch* is an excellent concept that failed to live up to its conceptualisation.
I would much rather pay for my more reliable SMS or hope fervently that Whatsapp comes to WP7 in the foreseeable future.
Side note: I was unable to give a thorough comprehensive review of this app because after the first day of usage, the app was so unstable that it was rendered not usable. I wrote a feedback to Affle and they assured me that an update would be released this week to resolve the problem. I have yet to see an update as of Wednesday, September 21.
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