What would you do when sitting idle and not having anything to do? I would – surf the net, boot up my Hike/WhatsApp account and get back to something I needed to finish on schedule, before I would get pulled towards quivering emptiness. It would be rather biased, if I would base my analysis solely on my opinion. So, in order to generalize a simple idea, without going into statistical jargon, we can firmly state that most people who have a smartphone are often found reaching out to people that matter via popular instant messaging apps like WhatsApp.
CERN introduced the world to the blessing named internet, Facebook made the former more worthwhile by providing social media platform in terms of virtual technological advancements. But, from the last 3 to 4 years there is a surge in a particular type of application in different app markets, known as Instant Messaging applications. Facebook launched its Messenger and later acquired the most popular, WhatsApp whereas apps like Line, WeChat and Hike tried to place them on a race track, and constant proliferation in the technological fields have consumed, overpowered or helped them to sustain themselves in the competitive market.
Most of us use Messenger, WhatsApp and Hike. A more selective audience gravitates towards Snapchat, Line or WeChat. Now, why do we specifically choose to be with the first three ones more than the others? Well there are actually a book of points. It could be their UI element, or attractive freebies or technical tweaks that might have attracted one’s mind. Plus, branding and promotion is always there and it works only everything maintains a perfect ratio.
Recently Facebook launched its live video calling feature to boost the user engagement. Hike, on the other hand has given us lucrative stickers and word based suggestions while Google’s Hangouts gave us the permission to personalize messages. Simply, putting one brand over the other depending on features will be tough, but what if an app could have them all? Will you try it?
Let’s discover the answer with a relatively new application n-gage which claims to be a ‘360-degree lifestyle chat app’. At first, you would understandably wonder why you should download yet another chat app. Well, precisely because it’s got all these features I mentioned, rolled into one service.
That’s all, you ask? Not really, going one step ahead it could help you to make video calls with contacts who aren’t available on n-gage yet.
Taking a first person review, there were some tweaks or turns that I found pretty interesting while some could have been better if applied with a different approach. Before that, I would like to mention the device I used for my test run.
My droid runs Android Lollipop 4.4.4 and I have only 1 GB memory space left in it. Post installing n-gage, as with all ICAs (Instant Chat Apps) do, it prompted me to fill in my details and tried to authenticate my profile. I encountered a minor glitch here – it took me more than 2-3 minutes which compared to others is quite long, and then everything went fine and I got a very clear chat window with some cool symbols placed across the window.
The first window is pretty direct with 5 circular options placed below and each one leads to a distinct feature that comes packed with it. The first one being “Rewards”, is pretty much self-explanatory, gives rewards according to your activities fitting their rewarding norms. The second one, named as “Know” is basically an entertainment blog feed that lets you get some extra news on lifestyle, health and celebrities. The third one is tagged as “Chat”, which is already a pressed logo as it gives you the direct main menu and is placed just in the middle. The fourth one named as “contacts” would give you the details of your contact whereas the last one, named “Option” gives all the things you could ever imagine an application might disclose in its settings.
The user gets direct access to the latest app update and could update the device accordingly. Among a series of high end features, it’s worth mentioning about “Password Manager” and “Premium features”. Password Manager pops up a series of options that could make your private vault safe and secure with a pin. “Premium features” has loads of small applications that could sometimes make you feel that you are rather using a photo editor or a video editor, or that you’ve accidentally entered into an official security system solution provider. And that’s what makes it unique and feature heavy. Only spending 24MB, you are getting so many add-ons, I think that’s something really cool about the application.
Now, speaking about one such resource, apparently the application puts extra emphasis on security. In premium features, it already has 3 modes namely “Privacy Mode”, “Private Vault” and “Safe Mode”, and all of them cost 250 INR. So, in that way you can avoid further complicacy and if you want to own them, you ought to pay the bucks and get it. Another personal opinion is that such a private feature could be available for free as other competitors like Hike offer a free one.
There’s a 3 bar option just at the top of the panel, placed above the chat option and one of the sections that might work as the USP of the app. Among many features, two which caught my eye are “Video call” and “Schedule messages”. Frankly speaking, this one steals the show with its “any-app-video chat” motive. It simply lets you share a link with your dear one and connect with you. While trying the video call with one of my contacts who already has n-gage installed, I found that the pop up screen is really simple and doesn’t switch off my phone’s light like any other voice/video calling apps regularly do. One more thing, I believe we do feel an urge sometimes to send messages at a particular time, and for that we push away other important works. But with the “Schedule Message” option, the process becomes much easier. Setting the date and time could get the job done.
Other features include, “App Makeover”, “Device Makeover”, “N-stickers”, “N-Cards” which takes special care of your needs and truly personalizes the app and chatting contents. Like hangouts, it lets you personalize all your image based stuffs and gives you enough room to explore your creativity. Another plus point of the app would definitely be a group chat system which gives permission to incorporate 300 people in a group. One can imagine, that your entire workplace could exist in your phone. The app boasts of a rich textual database, it can access close to 45 regional languages and choose the one you prefer.
Other than the ones mentioned, the app offers most of the regular facilities like file sharing, voice calling features etc. which are currently under development and most of them come with greater user accessibility as it lets you send data across devices irrespective of whether or not the other party has n-gage installed on their device or not. I would like to specifically lay stress over the point of having a cross platform application. Most of the time, it is seen that an application is device specific which means, if it runs on android, iOS or Windows based smartphone, then definitely it does not have an app for your PC. That should ideally not be the case. Ideally, it must have an application that is supported in most of the devices. n-gage possesses this feature. The application is easily downloadable in your PC and Tablet, along with 2 known smartphone platforms Android and iOS. Lastly, n-gage is an application that could connect a non-smartphone device with a smartphone, which I guess no other popular application has achieved till now. Judging all the features, it is probably with 90% surety the most feature-rich and resource-heavy instant chat application I have come across and has lot more potential than its competitors.
Now, critically pin pointing some problems/glitches, I would say it has two of them (According to me).
The app started with all its features integrated, but I assume some of them are actually set for the future as they blink “Coming Soon” screen in front. Well, this could generate three sub-problems which might work in a negative way.
– Makes the app more complicated: People expect to get the feature and hits it but instead gets a dubious screen which is not expected.
– Longer Load Times: As it is resource heavy, it takes too much time and the process lags. I’m guessing it’s because of an ill-equipped server.
Not all features are free: Okay, it is understandable that not all apps are free but some features like privacy application would be better had it been free.
Wrapping up, n-gage manages to offer more pros than cons. While the longer than average load times may put off high-end users, I don’t see why it can’t be fixed soon enough. Give n-gage a shot.