Micromax has launched HookUp, a mobile messaging application on Android devices, that allows users to exchange pictures, music, videos, send and receive messages, free of charge. The messaging app integrates SMS and IM chat app and allows HookUp users to send SMSes to a non-HookUp user free of charge. The app is powered by mobile messaging solution provider, Hesine, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of MediaTek.

How to use: Users need to have an active internet connection on their Android devices to use the app (download .apk file). To activate the service, Android users need to tap the activation icon and enter his/her mobile number with user name to get started.

Availability: Currently, HookUp is available on Android and MediaTek platforms. As of now, the HookUp app is currently available on Micromax devices such as A57 Ninja 3.5, A87 Ninja 4.0, Q34 and X335 and other Android devices.

Features: Micromax Info’s official website states that HookUp will allow its users to send 4,000 free SMS per year or 330 SMS per month for an year to anyone in ones contact list even if they didn’t have the HookUp app. However, we tried the app and discovered that the 4,000 free SMS per year are not available on non-Micromax Android handsets.

Apart from that, HookUp app also comes with features such as as doodle pad, Walkie-Talkie, location sharing, and contact list management. Its Doodle pad allows users to draw any shape and share it with their friends from within the app. The walkie-talkie feature allows users to share audio/video or image files with other HookUp users.

Looks like Micromax, which offers Android phones in the budget and mid-level segments, wants to give potential buyers another reason (free messaging) to choose their phones over phones from other OEMs. But we’re not sure if users would wish to switch to a lesser known app, as their contacts might already be using popular apps like WhatsApp. Also, we were not able to locate the app in the Google Play Store.

Other similar apps

Micromax Info’s HookUp service competes with the already popular WhatsApp messenger which is available on mobile operating system such as Android, Apple’s iOS, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Symbian, and Nokia S40 series. Samsung had also launched similar service called ChatOn with similar features provided by HookUp service.

In November 2011, Jaxtr, an Internet Telephony startup which was acquired by Sabeer Bhatia’s SabSe Technologies in June 2009, was relaunched as JaxtrSMS, a mobile app that allows users to send national and international text messages for free. JaxtrSMS allows users to send SMS’s to their friends and family irrespective of whether they have the app installed or not, although they would need to install the app to reply, free of charge, through the service. The app is available across all major platforms including iPhone,AndroidBlackBerrySymbian, and Java.

In May 2012,  WeChat the popular messaging service from Chinese major TenCent, was launched in India with features such as Float a bottle, Shake to find new contact, Voice messaging, Location based contact search, and moments. The WeChat app is availalbe for the iPhone, Android and Windows phone ecosystems.

Update: Mumbai and Singapore based Antarix Networks, founded by former ITFinity exec Nagesh Rao, which had earlier launched popular social networking app Socially, also offers Imsy, an Instant Messaging app that allows users to send text and multimedia messages to each other, and also receive content alerts in the form of push messages from different services via 3rd party messaging bots. The app is available for all major mobile platforms including iOS, android, Windows Phone 7, Symbian, Nokia Series 40(Java), in addition to BlackBerry (in private Beta).

This year in July, BSB, the joint venture between Bharti Enterprises and Softbank (Japan), launched an application called Hike in beta, a peer to peer (p2p) messaging application which uses both data and SMS to deliver messages. The application offers its users 100 free SMS’ per month, and as a carrot for bringing more and more users to the app, it offers10 SMS per user brought in. Apart from that, there are other data based messaging apps such as RockeTalkebuddyim+Viber and kik.