Honk wants to establish real-time messaging. Instant messaging? It’s a dog for Honka. The iPhone-only app was launched on Tuesday globally after months of testing, with the promise of an instant messaging experience. On Honk, your messages are displayed to another person as you type, down to that typo, extra space, or pause to think about something. There is no send button because there is no need for it. And you only have 160 characters (roughly the size of a traditional text message) to convey your thoughts. Once you reach the limit, press the refresh button to start over. Predictably, Honk has no conversation history.
In a way, Honk basically takes the collaboration of Google Docs in real time and connects it to the concept of disappearing messages, pioneered by Snapchat, which has been adopted by almost everyone, including Facebook, in all apps, including WhatsApp and Messenger. Honk differs from most messaging tools, but still opposes them all because of its strong network effect. And in India there is an additional hurdle that is not yet on Android, where most smartphone users are in the country.
🗣️ Need to get someone’s attention quickly? Honor them! They will be notified to come to the chat. If this is extremely important, you can send spam to the Honk button – it’s hard to miss. pic.twitter.com/VqcinmeeT2
– Honk (@usehonk) December 22, 2020
At this point, you’re probably wondering why it’s called “Honk.” Well, that’s because the app literally has Honk a button to help you get someone’s attention. The other person will be flooded with notifications if he is out of the app or a series of emojis if he is in the app. Yes, you can press repeatedly Honk button just like most Indian drivers do on the road – I just realized how grateful I am for all the sounds of the car I saved myself from thanks to the lock. And since Honk is designed to be in the moment, it will notify people as soon as someone leaves the chat.
Honk also has a bunch of customizable features. You can change the color of the chat bubble (the top shows incoming messages and the bottom you type). You can choose the emoji skin color you want, which will be reflected everywhere in Honka. And words or phrases can also be assigned to certain emoji thumbnails. Honk calls it “Magic Words.” Each time you type a sentence or word, the phrase you selected will appear next to the word and pop up. Emoji have their own section called “Reactions”, where tapping pre-selected emojis creates an effect similar to iMessage’s “Send Echo”. You can also type regular emoji thumbnails using the keyboard. Honku seems to miss the dark mode at the moment.
✨ You can use magic words to assign any emoji symbol to any word or phrase, which automatically activates the effects as you type. It’s the best way to personalize your chats and bring them to life. Post up to 50 unique magic words per chat! pic.twitter.com/2BYUyNrEzz
– Honk (@usehonk) December 23, 2020
The app obviously targets Gen Z, given the age selection options at the beginning. You can choose any age between 13 and 21, but all older than that are grouped into older than 21 years. Honk has taken the App Store rankings since its public launch; it is currently ranked 11th in the U.S. and 15th in Canada. In India it is at a far further place # 53 (all ranks are for the social media category). With Honk, that wave of interest did not resolve itself well acknowledging to address some issues in the early hours after deployment, including users who were shown offline even though they were not.
Honk is available for free in the App Store worldwide.
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