Yet another day and yet another app that wants to challenge WhatsApp for its cross-platform instant messaging supremacy. But this time, it’s pretty serious. Can any app really challenge WhatsApp, an app that is installed on pretty much every single smartphone (and some feature phones too) out there? Hike, a new cross-platform instant messaging app, thinks so.
I’ve been a WhatsApp user since its inception on Android and numerous similar apps have come and failed during that course. But Hike is different. It doesn’t sport any earth-shattering features, but its simplicity and UI (User Interface) are truly amazing. It’s neat, it’s slick, it’s smooth and you’ll notice it the moment you open Hike for the first time.
(Currently available for Android, Windows Phone and iOS ; BlackBerry and Nokia S40 versions are planned as well)
Hike surely as an edge over WhatsApp (and others) with its cleaner UI. But upon comparing the network speed of these two apps, we even found Hike to be faster by delivering photos at a slightly faster rate.
Hike also notifies you if your message has been read or not by the notation – R (read). The bubble (on the left) shows up when the other person is typing a message.
Smileys in Hike — They’re sooo expressive and there are loads of them. You’ll never run out of emoticons.
FRIENDS NOT ON HIKE? NO PROBLEM
Perhaps, the coolest feature of Hike is that users can communicate with non-Hike users as well. Unlike other apps, which have a restriction of sending instant messages only to users that have the same app installed on their phone, Hike lets users send messages to users that don’t have Hike installed on their phone in form of SMS, overcoming a very big hurdle. Better yet, the recipient can even reply to the SMS at normal rates, which will be received back into the Hike app.
Though, there is a limit of 100 SMS that a new user can send, but an additional set of 50 SMSes is gifted for every new Hike user you refer. This SMS functionality, however, is currently only limited to one country — India. If you’re living elsewhere in the world, you’re out of luck for now. The team behind Hike says that they’re trying to bring this feature in other countries as well, but I believe that it will take some time.
Praises and flowers aside, Hike too has its own set of missing features, none of which are bummers, but still are important:
- There is no way to set a status or to view profile of others.
- Contact sharing option is absent. Coming from WhatsApp, I miss this functionality including location sharing as well.
- The app is low on customizing. For example, you cannot set a background wallpaper, customize chat bubble, change theme, etc.
But hey, no app is perfect after all right? It’s a new app and we will have to give it some time to evolve.
I wish Hike had a web interface as well for sending messages directly from our Desktop. It’s a feature that WhatsApp users have been wanting for long, but is being neglected and Hike can certainly benefit from this killer feature.
Another much needed feature is group moderation. Hike strangely doesn’t give any option for users to kick other users in a group, but it does have an option to block the group owner, which isn’t fair.
Overall, Hike strikes a fine balance between features and animations. However the only two features that Hike can boast as an advantage over its competitors is a slick User Interface and SMS functionality. For non-Indian users, that becomes one as SMS is stripped out. As a person who was sick with WhatsApp’s out-dated design, switching to Hike was easy for me and so will be for other tech-savvy users, but convincing tech-illiterate users will be the toughest challenge for Hike.
For users who prefer User Experience over functionality, Hike is a must have application. In fact, it’s a lot better app than WhatsApp and other similar IM apps.
Hike is available for Android, Windows Phone and iOS, but the team is working on apps for BlackBerry and Nokia S40 as well. Currently, the app is only open to select countries, which includes Saudi Arabia, UAE, India, Pakistan and 11 more. US, UK and many bigger countries are not included yet, but the team is planning to make live 5 countries every day. This could be the first time US/UK users might want an Indian App Store / Play Store account, thanks to Hike!
For a complete list of countries, please refer to this official release blog post.
Download: Hike (free)
P.S. If Hike is officially not available in your country, you can download it using its APK from any of the following links: First Mirror (Dropbox) Second mirror (Droplr)
Update: APK links have been removed as per request from Hike.