Competition is definitely heating up in the Instant messaging apps space and the latest entrant to it is PlusTxt.
The app will be available on Android and iPhone, shortly. Update: The app is now available as a free download on iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.
Features: Plustxt plans to differentiate itself from other messaging apps by offering more privacy controls while sending messages. For instance, one can share pictures with their friends and specify if the receiver should be allowed to download that picture or forward the message. One can also send time-limited messages, which auto-delete from the receiver’s inbox after a certain time period. In addition, one can also delete sent messages remotely from the receiver’s inbox.
Our Take: We tried the app on a Galaxy Nexus and found that the app worked as promised. We were able to send and receive time-limited messages and observed that the received time-limited messages got auto-deleted from our inbox after a certain time period. We also observed that we were unable to forward messages where forwarding was disabled.
The app allows one to sign up for the service either through Facebook Connect or by filling up a form with their name, email address and phone number. After registration, the app creates a random six-character alphanumeric Plustxt ID, which one can share with their friends to add them on Plustxt. We were quite disappointed that there is currently no option to create a custom ID, since it would be quite difficult for users to remember their 6 digit alphanumeric ID. Pratyush Prasanna, Founder of Plustxt, however told MediaNama that they will offering this feature as a premium add-on in the future.
Multilingual App: What’s interesting about the app is the support for seven Indian languages besides English. These include Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Punjabi, Gujarati and Malayalam. However, instead of offering an in-app indic keyboard, the app offers indic word predictions based on the letter the user types, in a horizontally scrolling bar. For instance, if one types in ‘main’ (‘Me’ in Hindi), it offers suggestions like ‘मैं’, ‘मयन’, and ‘मन’ among others.
It also offers SMS integration, allowing users to send and receive text messages at regular costs, thereby offering an option to users to replace their default SMS app with Plustxt. Users can also long press on any message thread to block the specific user or delete the entire thread. Its worth noting that the privacy settings works only on messages sent between two different plustxt IDs and doesn’t work on regular text messages.
Difference between iOS and Android app: Prasanna stated that the iOS app will not feature SMS integration since Apple doesn’t allow third party developers to access or send SMS. The iOS app will also initially not support any Indic languages, however they hope to add this feature in the future versions of the app.
Premium Features: Going forward, the app will offer premium features like customized backgrounds, fonts, smiley packs and language packs, for purchase to its users. It will also offer a paid pull-based content service starting with cricket, horoscope and stocks and a push-based content service to allow banks or other firms to push messages to their users with requisite privacy and security.
TigerText Ban: In June 2011, Indian Government was looking to ban a multi-platform private messaging app called TigerText, which allowed users to send and receive messages privately and offered users the ability to permanently delete the messages from the receiving party as well as from the TigerText servers, after they’ve been read, due to which the messages couldn’t be retrieved once it expires. The Government had stated that this feature could easily misused by terrorists to send messages and there is no mechanism to retrieve the messages back, thereby posing a threat to the Indian security.
While Plustxt offers a similar feature wherein the users can send messages which gets deleted after a certain period of time, Prasanna told Medianama that these messages are not deleted from servers for official reasons.
Will It Get Traction? While the premise of Plustxt looks quite interesting, it is yet to be seen if the app will be able to generate sizable traction in the country where competitors like WhatsApp are becoming almost synonymous with SMS among youngsters. Besides WhatsApp, there are plethora of data-based messaging apps launched in the past year including Tencent’s WeChat, Bharti Softbank’s Hike, Imsy, GupShup Messenger and Sabeer Bhatia’s JaxtrSMS among others.
However it’s worth noting that none of the above mentioned apps have support for Indic languages input yet. Tencent’s WeChat offers support for Hindi but it only changes the language of its interface to Hindi at present.