These days it seems easier than ever to stay in touch with your friends, family, and colleagues. And I am not talking about using mobile phones, but instead about numerous online services which are mostly free, like those numerous messengers, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, and so on. It actually seems like everything is pretty much invented, and that there is no space for yet another service of this kind. However, on the other hand, people liketrying out new services which are promising to bring something new, original, and innovative, especially if they come free of charge.
This was the situation with an iPhone app called WaveDeck, which brought a service similar to traditional voice-messaging, but which is free and is done by Wi-Fi. Now that same developer has brought an OS X version of this service in an application called Pling.
Pling is an application which sits in OS X’s menu bar. Right after you install this free application using the Mac App Store, you’ll see its colorful icon in the menu bar, which is complete opposite of other black and white colored icons. This is a sign that Pling will come with its own aggressive interface design, which is an attempt to set itself apart from other similar apps. Once you click on its icon, you will see a dark themed floating window, with only a few hints of orange, which seems to be its visual identity colors.
In general, Pling comes with interestingly designed interface, but I believe it could be more successful if it followed light patterns of Mac OS X friendly design.
In order to use this service, you and your friends will need to open an account at Pling.com. This will let you see a list of your friends, along with their rounded avatars each time you click on Pling’s icon. Opposite to your friends’ avatar you will see an icon representing a small speech bubble with a microphone inside it. This button is used to record a new message, and in order to do so you will to keep this button pressed while you speak a message. Once you let it go, your message will be automatically sent. Pling is very light on bandwith, and even if you record a longer message (2-3 minutes long) it will need only a few seconds to upload it. Once you receive a new voice message, this app will notify you within its own window instead of Notification Center, which I believe is a bad design decision.
In everyday life, Pling can be a very useful thing. For Pling to become popular, it is a difficult task, especially because its developer and designers took some unusual steps. For example, there’s no keyboard shortcut which will allow you record a new message instantly. Also there’s no audible cue to notify you that the recording started, just like with voicemails for example. Notification of new messages could be also done is a much more OS X friendly and less intrusive manner.
In general, Pling is a very interesting idea. In its current state, it is more of a hassle to use this service, and needs you constant attention. This is not a reasonable argument to make you think about switching from any other popular online service.