[App Fridays] Hike; A Truly Complete Messaging App

Messaging apps for communication between smartphones was something that I never bought when whatsapp was first introduced. A couple of weeks later, I was spending about 2-3 hours a day on it religiously “whatsapping” people. This App based instant messaging is an extension of the equally addictive desktop IM’s, but with mobility, people’s levels of accessibility has reached unprecedented levels!

But most of these smartphone IM apps can be used only between smartphones. What about those who do not have smartphones? Today’s App Friday has solved one end of this problem. Hike is an instant messaging app which allows smartphone users communicate with other smartphone users with the app via IM and also communicate with non smartphone users via SMS.

After having spent two weeks with this app, here’s the app friday review of Hike

Function

It is a communication app. Its a hybrid IM and an SMS app (Think Way2SMS, only on mobile), giving the user the following use cases

1) Communicate with other smartphones with Hike (IM)
2) Communicate with other smartphones without Hike (SMS)
3) Communicate with any phone (SMS)

This basically makes it a complete messaging app. The Hike to Hike communication via IM has features, such as group chat and photo and video sharing, which are right up there with any top smart IM app.

The app provides 100 free SMS’s with the app and provides free SMSs for users that promote the app through its use.

 

 

Effectiveness

We measured Hike’s effectiveness on its use cases. Here are some key points that I think you should know -

1) Communicate with other smartphones with Hike (IM) – Almost instantaneous over a stable Internet connection. Group chat works pretty well and so does the image and video transfer (Speeds dependent on Internet connection)

2) Communicate with other smartphones without Hike (SMS) – The SMS reach the recipient slightly later than a conventional SMS over a stable internet connection. 100 free messages a month and 50 free SMS’s if your recipient joins Hike!

3) Communicate with any phone (SMS) – Same as above, along with a small note after message about Hike. Don’t annoy people too much with Hike, as recipients are given a code which can block you.

All in all, pretty effective.

Innovation

Hike’s endeavor to be a complete messaging app is commendable and they way they’ve gone about doing this for India is innovative. By making Hike as a SMS and IM hybrid, it can actually be a good replacement for the conventional messaging app as well. With increased Internet penetration in smartphones, the stock messaging app can also include an IM service, which Hike has already paved the path for. I have already started using Hike as a primary messaging app.

I don’t know if this classes as innovation, but they’ve invested some design time in their smilies. I assure you, these will be the most adorable smilies that you’d have ever seen and its definitely not something that I’ve ever seen before.

Battery Performance – By Little Eye Labs

The power consumption of ‘hike’ is quite consistent with what we would expect from similar apps. The usage of CPU and network is very sporadic and quite light with respect to its battery consumption.

The MP10 report for ‘hike’ as expected from the testing, and was quite good. According to the tests (and considering only CPU and Wifi usage into account), the app will on an average drain 10% of the battery (of a standard 1400mah capacity) in ~11 hours.

 

This is great for an app that runs in the background for a smartphone.

UI and UX

Clean. That is the first word that comes to mind when you use Hike. It follows a conversation layout for messages, which is the norm in a smartphone and its white and bluish colour scheme is very pleasing to the eye.

The in app functionalities are very minimal. It has a list view of your previous conversations and add conversation button to your address book. As simple as that. Conventional gestures such as long press etc have been included into the app with corresponding options that a smartphone user will expect.

After using Hike, you’ll actually miss the experience that it provides with any other app.

What we liked

This is a great messaging app. Here’s what we liked about it specifically -

1) One of the best user interfaces and a easy user experience; very short learning curve and as a user, I’m used to it! (Love the smilies)

2) SMS functionality is not better than the stock SMS, but use it long enough and it being the complete app that it is, its something that you wouldn’t mind putting up with.

What we didn’t like

It does have some things that could have been done without -

1) The SMS reply is at STD rates for Hike messages. Where Hike encourages users to send SMSs from the app, it discourages recipients to reply back to it.

(Developer Clarification, “Hike doesn’t charge the users, the Network Provider does”)

2) SMS messages sent from Hike has a postscript about the app. This is understandable, but its slightly long. Kind of spammy.

Last words

I have tried to be as unbiased as I can, and I really can’t get over how brilliant the app is. The app is a pleasure to use and it does what it says. Some minor issues aside, this app is a must have for every smartphone user. I personally feel that Hike could be the future of the stock messaging app as well. Most smartphones have internet connectivity and Hike has shown that SMS and IM services from the same app provides a compelling use case. But until that day comes, use Hike.

Hike is available for Android and is coming soon for other platforms. You can download the app here.

Download the complete little eye battery report here.

Visit Hike


Raghu Mohan

Raghu Mohan

Raghu is an electronics engineer from Anna University who has a keen interest in mobility and consumer technology.He predominantly works on stories for tech entrepreneurs and startups. He is also an active member of the Bangalore Android User Group, a regular speaker at BarCamp Bangalore and is part of many other technology communities. You can follow him on Twitter @Raghum200