Instant messaging app Hike is now aggregating news stories, something that other players in the messaging field haven’t yet looked at. Hike claims that the News feature has gathered over a million users within 24 hours of its launch. Updated yesterday for Android, the company states that the iOS app will be updated next week.

Users need to enable the News option when they sign up or through settings for existing users. Its unclear whether Hike has tied up with news aggregators or if it’s curating this news through an internal team. I see news from news sites like Hindustan Times, Economic Times, The Financial Express among others, which, the company says has been compressed to 100 characters.

News in 100 characters
Under the news are 3 tabs: Category, Full story and a forward button. Clicking on full story opens the news website’s story within the Hike app (similar to what Facebook and Twitter does. However, in the Facebook iOS app, users cannot select to load the news article in an external browser, unlike the Facebook Android app). Clicking on category pops up a menu which displays tags like top stories, India, world, sports, technology, business, lifestyle etc. On selecting the category, users are shown news from that topic’s tag. Users can keep on reading and up-swiping the read stories.

Optimised for low bandwidth and poor networks
Hike also claims to be delivering 20 billion messages per month, which has apparently doubled from 10 billion messages in August last year. The company said that its updated 4.0 messenger is 5 times faster than its predecessor and is targeted particularly at first time internet users, has been optimised for low end phones and apparently ‘extremely poor network connections’. There’s also an option to not load images from the news articles, along with the ability to ‘block’ news and subsequently unblock it.

In case Zero Rating goes through (we hope it doesn’t*), there’s a likelihood that Hike messenger will be available on it for free, given that it has now been optimised for poor network connections and first time internet users, whose growth has been booming in rural areas. 

File transfers, group chat and sticker suggestions
Hike has also added new features to the app, which include sticker suggestions from a catalog of over 5,000 stickers, group chat for up to 500 people, including the ability to set multiple admins in group chats, file transfers of up to 100MB for documents like ZIP, PDF and other kinds of files, photo filters and doodling. Kavin Bharti Mittal, founder and CEO of Hike said that Hike will be releasing ‘one big new feature’ on top of existing features every month till the end of this year.

Earlier this month, the Bharti Softbank backed company integrated Hoppr and Tiny Mogul Games (TMG) under its brand name. In January, the company claimed to have crossed 35 million registered users worldwide, out of which over 50% active were every month. Around 90% of its users were from India and below the age of 25 years. Previously, Hike had raised $65 million from Tiger Global and BSB.

*Disclosure: MediaNama has taken a pro net neutrality stand for years