Yahoo, evidently tired of being passed up by hundreds of free messaging apps floating around the various smartphone application stores, has launched a service of its own to take on the likes of BBM and Google Messenger. The new app, called Hub, is only available for Android devices at the moment, but there's a brightside here: you can send a message to anyone, not just other folks who've downloaded the same app. The recipient -- or multiple recipients, since group chat is allowed -- can easily reply to the thread using their own standard SMS service. Curiously, Hub is only offered if you have a US SIM card and a text plan, even though the messages are transmitted using your data connection or WiFi. If you do a lot of international travel, Hub is supported in nine other countries besides the US, a rather small number we hope will grow as the service graduates from its beta status. While Yahoo can use all the help it can get right now, is this going to endear very many users?

[Thanks, Ashish]
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Introducing Hub (beta) – The Latest Messaging App from Yahoo!
December 2, 2011 on 1:00 pm

Many of you may already be familiar with our Yahoo! Mail and Yahoo! Messenger apps on mobile. Today, we are adding a new product to our mobile communications suite.

For those heavy texters out there, we are excited to introduce Hub, a fast and easy-to-use mobile messaging app that allows you to send text messages and have group conversations for free. Hub allows you to easily add participants to any conversation thread so it's easy to switch from private messaging to a group conversation. Whether it is just keeping up with a close group of friends or making spontaneous plans, you no longer have to deal with scattered messages.

What's more, Hub allows you to send messages to anyone without incurring any text messaging fees. Yes, you heard us right. There are no text messaging fees – messages are sent over WIFI or using your data connection – and Hub is device agnostic, which means you can communicate with anyone on any mobile device as long as you have their mobile phone numbers. Your friends are not required to download the app in order to reply to your messages although they are strongly encouraged to do so in order to enjoy the full feature set!

Key features of Hub include:

Group messaging: Enjoy group conversations with several friends at once

Local and international SMS messages: Send text messages to other Hub users or any mobile phone for free

Privacy: Easily view and add participants to any conversation thread

Message any phone: Your friends can reply with any SMS enabled mobile phone

Instant notifications: Get push notifications for incoming messages so you never have to miss a conversation

Hub is currently in beta and is available for download on the Android Marketplace. We are extremely excited about this release and can't wait for you to get started. Try Hub today and let us know what you think!

Note: Hub requires Android OS 2.1+ and is currently available only to users with a US SIM card and a text plan.

This feature is currently available when sending to numbers in Canada, Indonesia, India, Kuwait, Malaysia, Philippines, Pakistan, Thailand, United States and Vietnam. SMS recipients may be charged by their carriers.