Do we really need another app for staying in touch with friends and family? Telefónica certainly seems to think so. Today, it launched TU Me, which bundles free messaging, voice calls, photo sharing, and more together in a simple-ish iPhone app.
TU Me’s main advantage over similar WhatsApp is its voice calling, apparently based on Jajah which Telefónica bought in 2010. Photo sharing, location sharing, audio messages – these all feature in both apps. But WhatsApp also offers video sharing, contact sharing and it’s multi-platform.
TU Me unfortunately has more serious problems. It doesn’t appear to have functioning push notifications, meaning you’ve got to have the app open to know you’re receiving a call or message. Additionally, it doesn’t play well with Siri when Siri is set to start when you raise the phone to your head. Image download seems slow when you receive a message and messages cannot currently be deleted. These flaws will probably be ironed out in the next release while WhatsApp now probably needs to add voice calling as soon as it can. Oddly, TU Me lacks any social element, making it a purely one-to-one solution.
When it works, though, TU Me works really well. Audio quality for voice calls over WiFi is excellent… when they connect properly. Location sharing is quick but uses a different engine to Maps and put me over a block away from my actual location. Sending audio messages is quick and easy, but who does that very often?
Telefónica has shown over the last few years that it sees at least a chunk of its future business in proprietary software. Unfortunately, like social network Tuenti before it, TU Me doesn’t quite get it right. When calling worked, it sounded great. But with so many other annoyances plaguing it, TU Me is going to have to improve before it becomes my favorite app for reaching out.