We live in a cloud-based world, where our previous expectation for sequels and new things is quickly being replaced by a desire for updates, patches, and additional features for our favorite applications and programs. Many Kik Messenger users are greatly anticipating the new features that a 2016 update could bring to the popular chat application.
Boasting over 200 million registered profiles worldwide and millions of daily users, Kik has become a massive service. Primarily embraced by contemporary, connected youth, it’s also become a method for third-party interests and brands to market content towards their various audiences. The combination of young users and active marketing interests has all but exploded into a wealth of media-rich communications on Kik, and accompanying the app’s increased usage have been new and interesting features. Most recently, Kik added the GIF Keyboard to its chat system, and before that it added an entirely new method of web access through its integrated browser. Currently in beta, the Kik Points system and accompanying Smiley Shop are offering new ways for Kik users to enhance their chat experience as a reward for participating in Kik-sponsored activities and promoted chats.
Clearly, the development team behind Kik is fond of adding new and innovative features that help the app to stand apart from the increasingly crowded ranks of online messaging platforms. The question remains, however: what types of updates are we likely to see as 2016 unfolds?
There are a few ways that we can speculate on this subject. Based on users’ activities, we can get a basic grasp on several of the features that users are seeking a way to achieve on their own. From emulation to customized Kik themes, users have been modifying the application to achieve their own ends. From these activities, we can discern what Kik users want to see.
We can also look at some of the topics most frequently addressed through the Kik Messenger official blog! While it still involves a great amount of speculation, it’s handy to see what information the developers are rolling out to their users.
What’s the Word on Kik in 2016?
Examining the most recent round of posts on the Kik Messenger blog, one topic rises above the rest that’s related both to the application’s development as well as the users who access it every day.
While the forefront of the digital entertainment world is focused on virtual reality, many popular chat platforms are still finding new ways to utilize bots in order to give their uses fresh new experiences. More than that, developers are finding ways that bots can enhance chat productivity, and even open up new ways for people to communicate with each other.
When many people hear the word “bot,” they automatically ascribe some assumption of intelligence to it. That’s just the way we think of robots. However, the “bots” that we see in Kik Messenger–as well as many other messaging and communication platforms–don’t have any particular amount of intelligence. Instead, they’re simply automated services that have been programmed to respond to specific triggers dependent upon the people interacting with them. They’re not a particularly new innovation, yet they’ve seen a recent resurgence in use that’s brought them to many new applications.
Why are bots the future, then?
In Kik’s March 1st blog post, “The Future of Chat Isn’t AI,” the developers readily admit that their bot platform is a year and a half old; it’s not a particularly new feature, and the widespread expansion of that bot platform has resulted in millions of users already engaging with automated bots on a regular basis. Still, more developers than Kik’s are seeing chat bots as an innovative front that’s set to explode as 2016 proceeds.
- The Kik team lays it out fairly simple in their blog: “For the first time ever, bots will let you instantly interact with the world around you.” But, aren’t we already interacting instantly with the world around us?
In the blog post, a scenario is described that explains how chatbots can still change the way we send messages. The writer illuminates just how many individual apps that we’re tasked with downloading when we want to do various things from our smartphones. Ordering food, ordering tickets, navigating traffic, and a constantly growing list of other tasks that are able to be performed from an interactive application. The writer wonders when we’ll ever be asked to stop downloading an individual app for each of these things.
- This is where bots have a massive amount of potential. What if, instead of automating our myriad services through separate apps, they could all be done through separate chat bots? The writer asks you to imagine if you could perform any number of tasks that you wanted from within one application, by engaging with separate chat bots rather than whole, separate apps.
It’s through this line of thought that we can begin to understand how bots might shape our interactive experiences beyond what we know now, and it’s this potential that has made bots appear to be the featured topic for Kik Messenger in 2016. Expect to see more of them in 2016 Kik updates, and also in various other chat and social media applications where they might prove beneficial.
What Else Might We See in Kik During 2016?
By no means are “bots” the only feature that we stand to see updated, upgraded, and expanded over the course of 2016. While they’re currently a major talking-point for mobile app developers, Kik boasts a plethora of other features that could all still be improved in numerous (somewhat unpredictable) ways.
It’s easy to get caught up in the widespread yearning for new and exciting things and overlook some of the most recent additions to the Kik experience. Only last year, Kik added the GIF Keyboard to their messaging system. Rather than simply functioning as another emoji keyboard, the GIF Keyboard allows you to insert popular animated graphics from the web into your messages without needing to leap into another app. As this is a relatively new feature that was brought to Kik through a partnership with another developer, it’s easy to predict it being expanded in interesting ways.
At the heart of the Kik Messenger is the app’s built-in web browser. While this feature has also been a part of Kik for quite a long while already, there’s room to see it improved in numerous ways. Apart from less exciting innovations like new games and better-optimized websites, I predict that we’ll see numerous direct integrations with every way that we see Kik’s chat bots expand in 2016. In some instances, we already do! Kik bots that were designed to direct people to relevant websites for shopping and other browsing experiences already provide links to Kik-optimized sites. Given that Kik boasts such a large user base, it’s not far fetched to imagine that some of the aforementioned automated services that we currently use apps for might show up, instead, within Kik’s browser.
Let’s not forget the digital currency system that’s currently in beta on Kik, either. The Kik Points system is currently only used in Kik’s Smiley Shop, where users can purchase emoji and graphics that enhance their chat experience. Because Kik Points come from sponsored and promoted chats through Kik, I can easily see this feature expanding a great deal. If bots are truly going to take the stage in terms of innovating chat app development, expect to have many ways to earn Kik Points through bot interaction.
Additionally, it’s possible that the Kik Points digital currency could pave the way for a paid storefront, where users can spend real currency on Kik Points, which will then be used to purchase cosmetic themes and aesthetic enhancements for their apps. Considering the lengths that some Kik users go to when they want to modify the appearance of the Kik app itself, it’s very easy to see the development theme offering more visual customization than is currently offered through the changeable chat bubbles.
Until an update for Kik Messenger in 2016 is actually announced, all that we have on our side is speculation, context, and evidence provided by Kik’s current demographic and features. Though this can lead us to some interesting conclusions (see above!), none of them mean anything until the developers announce what they have in mind for the popular chat application. Two things remain certain: Kik is massively popular, and the features that we will see in coming updates are going to be aimed at pleasing the app’s millions of users while simultaneously drawing the attention of new ones.
If the world were good for nothing else, it is a fine subject for speculation.- William Hazlitt
One of the best ways to stay up-to-date on what’s going on with Kik (besides regularly using Kik Messenger, of course) is to follow the Kik developers’ blog. Regularly updated, it will provide inside knowledge about how Kik runs, what new features are in development and other tips that can only serve to help your chat experience flourish. Though there will certainly be an update to Kik Messenger at some point during 2016, it’s hard to know what it will entail until it’s announced. Comment below with your own ideas and predictions!