The battle for supremacy amongst instant messaging apps received a fresh boost as we approach the year-end. As the Whatsapp vs. Telegram battle loomed with Signal joining adding to the encryption game, a new app called Honk is now promising that all chats on the platform will disappear immediately after being seen.
The company behind this innovation says that the effort is to make messaging more interactive and real-time. Instead of sending messages and awaiting a response, Honk communicates live and no chat history is saved, because there is no send button. So, users are conversing in the present once Honk notifies the other person of their intent.
Sounds surreal in the context of existing instant messenger apps that encrypt, decrypt and then encrypt the data as it moves from one device to the other. Now, you may ask what if the user at the other end isn’t available? That’s when you can “Honk” away merrily as it would cause a near explosion of emojis on the other’s screen or send a simple notification if they happen to be on the app at that time.
🗣️ Need to get someone’s attention fast? Honk them! They’ll get a notification to come to the chat. If it’s super important, you can spam the Honk button — that’s hard to miss. pic.twitter.com/VqcinmeeT2December 22, 2020
But there’s a catch…
The app, which was launched globally earlier this week, is currently available only on the iOS ecosystem. According to the company’s website, Honk was created with a view to target the ‘Generation Z’ and is being marketed even via TikTok. Its founder Benji Tayler claimed on Twitter that the app had 550,000 “Honks” on Wednesday, a day after it was launched.
The messaging app has been created and tested by software company Los Feliz Engineering, which has been backed by a slew of investors including Naval Ravikant, Josh Hannah, Sahil Lavingia, Elad Gill, Brian Norgard, Ryan Hoover and Sarah Downey.
✨ With Magic Words, you can assign any emoji to any word or phrase, which automatically trigger effects as you type. It’s the best way to personalize your chats and bring them to life. Set up to 50 unique Magic Words per chat! pic.twitter.com/2BYUyNrEzzDecember 23, 2020
How does it work?
Users need to first set up an account through creating a username, customizing a profile picture and adding friends. Thereafter, one could just tap on a friend’s name and send them a message. The chat appears in the form of conversation bubbles, with the one on top belonging to the contact.
Both users can see the conversation live. In other words, you won’t see things like ‘typing’ when the other person is writing a message. You would actually see the text being entered in real time, possibly even with the typos. In a sense, we seem to be going back into an older tech like the ICQ chat or even Google Wave.
The Honk app providers users with 160 characters to structure the chat with the count appearing on the right of screen below the chat bubbles. There is no need to click on a “Send” button for it to transmit and the recipient to see it. Instead, you type and the recipient reads in real time.
Now comes the best part: Once the conversation is over, you just click on a double arrow in the bubble to refresh the chat window. And, you wipe the slate clean! Of course you can start another chat and wipe it away in the same fashion. For those of us used to emojis and the fun stuff, Honk does provide enough of it besides also allowing users to click a picture and sharing it or add one from the library.
The big challenge
In some ways, we believe that Honk is creating a real-time collaboration, albeit over a messenger app. Anyone using Google Docs and Sheets would tell you that such a collaboration does work well when managing projects. It remains to be seen if a similar approach makes sense during casual chats.
Of course, the numbers do tell their story. Having launched earlier this week, Honk now holds a prestigious eleventh position on the Apple Store in the United States. In India, the journey has been dull, given the lower number of iPhone users as well as the lack of media attention, thus far.
One might ask what’s unique about Honk when Snapchat pioneered the vanishing chats to be soon followed by the likes of Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp. Honk scores in that it doesn’t save chats at all, encrypted or otherwise. A welcome sign for the millennials, though effective only if Honk lands on the Android platform.