Much More Than Just Messaging

by Carina Li

It used to be only SMS texting on our black and white phones. Then it came to be colored pictures. As time goes by, messaging is embedded with more and more media forms. With the technology of smartphones, SMS was able to be renovated into phone applications.

But that’s certainly not the end of it. Messaging one on one, with either texts, pictures or other media, was the past. Messaging Apps are doing so much more nowadays.

To give you an overview of what the major messaging apps are:

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 14.52.25 Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 14.52.54

Source: CNBC.com

Skype has the most registered users, while Whatsapp still has the most active users monthly. These apps originated in different countries have different features. None of them is only aiming at the simplest texting function.

Whatsapp was one of the earliest messaging app invented. It still remains that simply user interface and features — two-way communication texting and group chats. Of course, you can share media and locations in the conversations. But other than that, Whatsapp doesn’t have much more to catch people’s eyes. Though, this might be just the right thing to do to keep the target of “minimalists”. Same as Facebook’s Messenger, it keeps the platform straight to sending messages, even after acquiring Whatsapp this year.

The chatting system and content sharing pages of Facebook are pretty much two separated features. However, some messaging apps did find a way to combine these two on mobile platforms. Canada-based messaging Kik has a built-in browser that allows one user to share webpages to another user. This is different than just sending pictures and voices. This is a progress ahead of California-based app Tango, which only allows two contacts to send photos, recorded voices, videos and video calls. (I know that’s already a whole lot than what we originally had.)

But a China-based app, Wechat, already succeeded to let a user share their life moments with all other people in his/her contact list. It is no more just between two people’s conversation. It’s about everyone surrounds you. Statuses, photos, short videos and even webpages are easy to be shared in the “Moments” feature. Every user can establish his/her own page within the app and enables other to see it.

Wechat also now has built-in e-commerce. This is definitely a big move. As the app has more and more users relying on its basic chatting function, in a ways, it is bring all other everyday used functions into the app. People can make their own little e-commerce page, as well as using the app to pay a variety retailers. As Apple has just launched ApplePay no long ago, we can see e-commerce is gradually moving towards mobile platforms.

Many messaging apps now also have gaming features. Tango, for example, partnered with PlayPhone, allowing users pay for games and other purchases through their monthly phone-carrier bill. Wechat even has a game list consisted of the company’s own games that directs to the download link.

But on the other hand, is it too much to stuff all these different features into one single app? Or are these added values only going to make users’ everyday lives much more convenient?

That’s all left to consumers’ choices.

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