Apple’s iOS has iMessage, Google’s Android is about to get Babel, BlackBerry has had BBM for years, but there’s no native cross-platform messaging app for Windows Phone.

Nokia has taken a big step towards that with the release of a new exclusive Nokia Chat app for Lumia Windows Phone devices. In addition, the app is compatible with Asha, S40, and Symbian devices, and other mobile devices and platforms that can run Yahoo Messenger. The app is currently in beta and allows you to instantly message other Nokia Chat users as well as Yahoo Messenger contacts. This could usher in a native cross-platform messaging app for Windows Phone since we have seen many Nokia-developed apps like Nokia Here and Nokia Music getting inducted into the platform.

The app is available in United States, United Kingdom, India, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Nigeria for now, with more countries set to get it later.

Screenshots of Nokia Chat beta

Screenshots of Nokia Chat beta

The app can be acquired from the Nokia Beta Labs website and there’s good reason to grab it now. Nokia Chat brings communication to different mobile and computer platforms. Windows Phone users will see notifications and Live Tile updates, even when Nokia Chat isn’t running.

The application also integrates with the other apps developed by the Finnish company. If a user shares information from say a restaurant, or any other point of interest, then the recipient will see details, directions, and reviews inside the Here location suite on a Lumia smartphone or inside the maps application on any other device.

One particular feature reminds us of Google Latitude. Users can broadcast their location in their status message, alerting friends and family that you are nearby. Like Whatsapp, Nokia Chat scans your phone’s address book to find users who are already using the app or Yahoo Messenger on a compatible phone.

In addition, Nokia has built in Windows Phone 8-specific features. Users on any of the five Nokia Lumia WP8 handsets can compose a message by pressing speak, and making use of the speech-to-text engine. The voice engine can also be used to start new chats. Users have to long-press the Windows key and say 'Chat with' followed by the name of the contact, which results in a new conversation.

Nokia Chat notifications will appear on the lock screen of the Windows Phone 8 Lumia, which, as we are sure many WP8 users will agree, is a greatly-appreciated feature.

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