Update: Hike claims that it has crossed 5 million users since its global launch in December 2012. Hike has also informed MediaNama that 60% of its user base is from India and the rest global led by Middle East and Europe. Around 20 percent of its overall messaging traffic comes from its Hike2sms feature.
April 18, 2013: Hike, the messaging app by Bharti Softbank, has updated its messaging app adding new features such as status update with moods, circle of friends, mute notifications, among others.
The update is available on Apple’s iOS devices, Android and Windows Phone 8 devices, however it looks like Status Updates & Moods feature has not been rolled out to Hike’s Windows Phone 7 app and Symbian app.
Status Updates with Moods/ Circle of Friends
Hike now allows users to add status updates from the app, however its worth noting that only users in one’s ‘circle of friends’ (previously known as Favorites) can see these status updates. Users can add their friends into ‘Circle of friends’ first and receive confirmation from them to see each other status updates.
Apart from the status updates, Hike has also introduced a new Moods feature with the updates. There are currently more than 20 moods ranging from happy to hungover to choose from. The app also allows users to use emojis on Android, however, this option is currently not available on iPhone at the time of writing this article. Note that iPhone has inbuilt emojis in its keyboard.
Users can also cross post these status update to Facebook and Twitter. When one chooses a mood, for instance ‘caffeinated’, we noticed that the app posts the update as “Caffeinated” in words along with their status update.
The app seems to have made it easier for users to start a group chat, one-to-one conversation, or to update the status by adding a universal bar at the bottom of the home tab.
Once users have added their friends to their circle of friends, they can view their status updates by clicking on notification icon on home tab. The recent updates or notification tab allows users to view their previous status updates along with status updates from users in their circle of friends and receive notifications on friend requests. These status updates are also visible from within the conversation screen.
More conversation or Annoyance?
Upon clicking on any status update from a friend in the notification center, the app takes users to the friends profile page where they can start a conversation. We believe the entire idea of status updates is to increase conversations, which is really smart. Hike’s competitor Whatsapp also allows users to update status messages, however, it’s really difficult to view it. Users can view statuses on Whatsapp only when they want to start a new conversation with someone in their contact. If one regularly chats with someone, the status update is mostly hidden. Hike’s approach reminds us of GTalk in early days when conversations used to start from status updates.
To increase conversation, we noticed that Hike also sends notification every time someone in one’s ‘Circle of friends’ updates their status. However, if one has more friends in circle of friends and they update their statuses frequently, we feel this could turn out to be annoying for the users. While Hike allows users to turn off notifications for status updates, the feature is switched on by default. We believe Hike should have it turned off by default and allow users to turn it on if they want to, so that this doesn’t turn out to be an annoyance.
Another annoying thing we find about Hike is that sometimes it doesn’t work the way it should. I tried to add my colleague Vikas in ‘Circle of friends’ and even though he approved from his side, I am not able to view his status updates. The first two screenshots are from my end and third one from Vikas’ phone indicating that my status updates are visible to him but his status updates are not visible to me.
This is not the first time that I have faced such issues/bugs on Hike. The last time the company updated their app, I couldn’t send or receive messages. Hike had then blamed it on hike traffic that the app received, however we feel the reason for Hike’s sudden increase in traffic was due to the talk time reward it had introduced in January 2013.
While it’s a good thing that a lot of people were apparently using the app, however, for a new messaging app with such issues might turn off the user. Personally, I found it annoying and had uninstalled the app earlier.