In a bid to compete with other established instant messaging services, Hike, a free cross-platform messaging app from Bharti Soft Bank (BSB) , has announced major updates. The 2.2.0 version of Hike adds features like stickers, walkie talkie, offline messaging and support for four new languages. The updates are currently being rolled out for apps on iOS, Android and Windows Phone platform, according to the company blog.
First up, the more than 5 million user app has added a walkie-talkie feature which is push to talk service that lets users send quick voice messages to each other. The feature is similar to that of WeChat that allows conversation in real time with your contacts. On opening a chat with a friend, you will notice a little icon that appears in place of the send message button that now allows you to send a voice message. The icon changes back to a message icon as soon as you start typing.
Other new features introduced in v2.2 of hike include a mode called Last Seen, which allows users to share with chosen friends when they were last online. Finally, Hike has added ’hike Offline‘ feature which allows users to send offline messages to friends. The message will go as a free SMS to that person. The reply from the offline user comes back into hike for other online users.
The latest update also brings support to four new foreign languages- Spanish, French, Russian, and Portuguese. I wonder why it has not added support for Indian languages like Hindi, Gujarati etc. This move suggests that it is targeting global audience. Apart from this, Hike has introduced stickers with different emotions and characters which can be used while chatting. These stickers include Miley the cat, Snuggles the dog, Expressions, Rage Faces and Bollywood pack.
Earlier in April this year, Hike secured a funding of $7 million from BSB. In May, BSB partnered Nokia to pre-load Hike on its smartphones. According to the company about 60% of hike’s user base comes from India and the rest global led by Middle East and Europe.
The update from Hike is obvious considering the extremely competitive instant messaging market. Hike faces tough competition from apps PlusTxt and GupShup. Although it is way behind the more established ones like WhatsApp, Nimbuzz and WeChat.