With the coming of affordable 2G and 3G networks for mobiles, it is like we have been hardwired to Instant Messaging (IM) on our phones. In fact, IM applications have evolved to provide much more than simple text-and-emoticon messaging. There’s voice notes, voice calls, video chats, audio/video sharing, location sharing and everything; organized in a way that makes communicating so much simple, handy and fun. While most of us are comfortable with one or two apps that suit our needs, there is a whole lot of apps out there- WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Line, ChatOn, WeChat, Viber, Line, Kik Messenger, Hike, Nimbuzz and many, many more.
As we set out to compare the similarities and differences among some of them, a particular thing about Hike caught our eye. There is hardly any other free messaging app that brings traditional SMS and IM under one roof. A product by Kavin Bharti Mittal, this free communication app has been developed by Bharti Softbank which is a partnership between India’s Bharti Telecom and Japan’s Softbank telecom provider.
The way messaging works without internet within Hike is interesting. First of all, like regular IM apps, Hike to Hike messaging happens over an internet connection. The serene blue-white interface has some interesting emoticons, apart from the usual ones. But in case your recipient is not on Hike, or has lost his/her internet connection mid-way, Hike makes sure that your communication doesn’t suffer. In such a case, it sends a normal SMS to your recipient to which (if he/she replies), you get a message like a usual Hike conversation.
Now, this question might tickle your mind: Does my carrier charge me for this SMS? The answer is NO. To promote the app, the company gives you 100 free replenishable SMSs every month. What’s more is that if you send an SMS invite to your friends to join Hike, and they oblige, you get 10 extra SMS. Generous as it sounds, the company also gives you 50 extra SMS per month for each of those friends further inviting others. The app also gets extra brownie points from people who’d rather have their privacy by not being tracked on when they were last online. However, the app lets you know whether the message has been sent (S), delivered (D) and received (R).
The app is available for all platforms- iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows and Symbian. The download gets completed when you submit your mobile number, after which you may either be given a 6-digit verification code or simply be asked to enter some basic personal details, depending on the platform you are using.
Our verdict: A great app which works smoothly and let’s you carry on your conversations unperturbed. A little word of caution though; your recipient must have an SMS pack, else they may not continue with the messaging. But this isn’t much of a reason to worry, because most people who do not use internet on their phones do subscribe to such packs.
So start Hiking and let us know what you think!