It’s easy to forget just how quickly the smartphone and mobile app scene has exploded in the past decade. Kik Messenger, being in the middle of this constantly competing sea of apps, often has its popularity questions; “Is Kik on fire?” many ask. The answer may not be immediately obvious, but we’ll lay out a clear answer below. More than that, we’ll prove it.
Every app developer on the market wants to boast about their massive army of loyal users, the flocks of people that use their app and all of its features every day. It’s become a necessity. Messaging apps are struggling to keep up with each other just as much as they’re trying to innovate. With how swiftly many people–especially young people–will flip-flop between apps, it’s become imperative for developers to market heavily and back up their hefty claims with well-designed features.
Let’s echo Kik’s boasts here, for a moment. Over 200 million registered profiles, and millions of users every day. Considering that the app is still running strong on three mobile platforms–Android, iOS, and Windows Phone–it’s no small feat to carry so many users. However, we can’t use these statistics alone to prove that “Kik is on fire,” can we? It’s going to take some examining of the app’s features, especially those unique tools and tricks that set it apart from its equally popular competitors.
Remaining a top contender is no easy thing. Between video calling, video sharing, emoji, group chats, file hosting, and the near-endless sea of other possible features that messaging apps are now touting, the crowded marketplace has only made it more difficult to stand out. However difficult, innovation is where Kik has found its niche. As we move into 2016, and Kik’s users guess at what new features might be coming to the app as the year unfolds, there are certain clues we can follow to discern where Kik is heading. Indeed, this is the path we want to investigate if we’re to find out whether or not, “Kik is on fire.”
Kik’s Standout Features
Since its inception, Kik hasn’t exactly toed the line and followed the innovations of its competition in order to keep up. It’s been a risky, bumpy path, but developing features that aren’t available in other online chat applications has given Kik a serious edge, especially considering how heavily it’s marketed towards (and used by) a younger user base.
Of course, this means that Kik is lacking certain features that other popular messaging apps are using. You won’t find video chats here, akin to what you’ll get in Facebook Messenger or FaceTime. This doesn’t mean that we won’t see these things, of course, but they’re not the direction that Kik has developed. You also won’t see the bloat of settings present in chat applications such as Skype. Additionally, Kik doesn’t offer a great many aesthetic options, either. You can alter the colour of the app’s chat bubbles, but the interface will otherwise remain the same.
Why begin a discussion of Kik’s features by outlining the things that the app isn’t? Because it helps us to narrow down what Kik is, as well as why it has such a wide and faithful following of millions of users. In spite of the above options not being present in this messaging app’s toolkit, it remains immensely popular.
Since it was added, the Kik browser has very likely become one of Kik’s biggest, most unique offerings. Rather than embedding itself in a different browser, or making it easier for users to link into or swap between other browser apps, Kik has gone the route of adding its very own web browser to the application itself. The benefits this has for its users hasn’t yet fully been explored, but if any app was the one to do this right, it’s most certainly been Kik.
The browser not only offers numerous ways to explore the web through Kik-optimized web pages, it has diversified the way that Kik users share media. While you can certainly still send the usual fare of images and video clips through the app’s messaging service, you can now embed links from the browser into your chats without ever leaving the app itself. Moreover, the browser has successfully tied into several other of Kik’s noteworthy features.
If Kik Messenger is a spiderweb of expanding content, new tricks, and fresh features, consider the built-in browser to be at the center of it.
Often tying directly into Kik’s browser are its promoted chats. Rather than just being host to millions of users, Kik also facilitates communications and advertising for various brands, labels, and other third-party interests so that they can communicate directly with their audiences and consumers. New hit television shows, music labels, clothing lines, and other groups use bots and direct messaging to keep in touch with Kik users.
What does this mean for you, as a current (or prospective) user? That you’ll be doing more than just chatting if you want to. Whether you find access to a promoted chat by searching for them (possible within the Kik app) or by receiving a direct message from the Kik team or one of its brand-name partners, you’ll have ample opportunity to engage with popular groups such as MTV.
It doesn’t require an entire novel in support of how ingenious and handy it is, but one of Kik’s newer additions, the GIF Keyboard, has actually had a significant impact on the way that its users communicate. GIFs and memes are by no means new to internet culture, but never have they been so accessible within a messaging app itself.
Before, you had to get lost in websites such as Imgur in order to find relevant GIFs and media to attach to your messages. Now? You have an entire keyboard option within Kik that allows you to search a constantly updating library of GIFs by using keywords. For users (like me!) who love communicating through image-based media, this new addition is both simple and a godsend.
Bots, Bots, Bots!
Even a cursory glance at the most recent posts in the Kik Messenger blog will tell you that the developers see themselves on the forefront of online chat innovations. “Bots are the future,” all of these posts seem to collectively proclaim, and judging by the rather prolific explosion of chat bots on various other platforms, it’s hard not to say that the Kik developers are right on the money. There are dozens (if not hundreds) of chat bots that you can engage with on Kik, but it’s not the bots that make this feature particularly interesting on Kik; it’s the way that the app can potentially integrate them.
Let’s lay it out simply: you want to go shopping. Rather than hopping between a dozen different apps, each with their own online storefront, you could potentially hit up a single chat bot! Look to the BlynkStyle bot that’s popular on Kik as an example. Instead of merely providing style or fashion tips, a bot can literally link you directly to a featured clothing item or sale. Moreover, if it happens in Kik, the app has its own web-browser ready on standby to suit your browsing needs.
This sort of integrated experience in chat messengers is one of the reasons that everyone’s eyes are currently on bots. They can potentially compartmentalize processes that would otherwise take several separate apps to accomplish.
Kik is on Fire!
Popularity is very inconsistent. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it’s not. It usually just comes in waves.- Mia Wasikowska
Looking at numbers can only tell you so much. They’re also a bit stale in terms of what they can tell you; sure, an app might play host to millions of users, but everyone in the US (and much of the rest of the world) has smartphones in their pockets! Plenty of apps can boast millions of users, which means that it comes down to features when you want to decide which mobile messenger is right for you.
Kik has the users, and it also has a toolkit of interesting features that set it widely apart from its competition. It might be lacking certain elements that other apps advertise themselves, but it makes up for these gaps in service by providing things that other platforms simply don’t. There’s only so much to be gained from copying the competition, after all. If you can’t copy it and make it better, then the answer to continued success rests in innovation.
Also significant is the large number of young users that are chatting on Kik. A majority of the app’s millions that log on daily are young people, and while youths can be a fickle audience, they’re also a telling indicator of what’s currently popular. The fact that so many are flocking to Kik (and hopefully awaiting the potential new features that might show up in 2016) means that Kik is, indeed, doing exceptionally well for itself. To say that Kik is popular is very nearly an understatement. All that you’ll need to do to determine for yourself that “Kik is on fire” is try out some of the above features for yourself, and explore the unique assets that they bring to the mobile messaging crowd.