It has been almost a year since we covered the upcoming chat startup- ZapBuddy. We liked it for a number of reasons mainly because there hasn’t been something new and good in the highly competitive world of chat apps. The world of chat apps has been a very limited one with many new entrants failing to make an impact and rise up to the big players. This startup felt one of the best challenger to the main stream apps, and that is a feat that very few apps have achieved so far.

We really liked it and were impressed by the hard work done by the team, given the fact they were working with jobs with the team divided between Melbourne and Islamabad. It was an extraordinary story and it was exciting to see the next garage success story happening before us. Most exciting part was that unlike many apps with no ads, data capitalization was not a part of their business plan and that is good to know considering the impact of such strategies around the globe. The team also had patents focused around privacy and that shows the strategic direction of the company.

The app was amazing, but with one big caveat, there was no android version. Now finally the team has launched their android version and we can get to try the app on both platforms.

To begin with, we are impressed with the fact that the android version has been made native and the look and feel is very nice. Comparing against iphone version, both are completely different and made to address the native interfaces. So far a single layout to address both versions hasn’t really worked well for such sort of apps. The speed is nice and the flow feels very smooth and fast, pretty much like what we would expect from mainstream chat apps.

The flow in android takes very little getting used to and is neatly laid out. As the team pointed out, one of the most difficult tasks was to make it look simple and easy. As we mentioned earlier as well, the team has patented many new features with the focus on privacy. However, one of the best surprise has been the lock screen. Something we did not expect to catch on, but with whatsapp offering a similar feature, it feels like this is here to stay.

The implementation of whatsapp and ZapBuddy has been different as the lock screen is only activated once backup recovery email and passwords have been set. We liked this approach it offers a separate password to main phone one and the notifications do not pop up on screen when app is locked. This is what we missed in whatsapp’s implementation the most as it was annoying to manually have to go to notifications and turn them off as they still popped up on screen even of whatsapp was locked.

What we love the most

The most simple yet extremely useful feature has been the privacy control for display image and location and frankly this is the feature we can see ourselves using the most. The display image can now be set for different users depending weather they are in your phone book or not and even if they are, you can also manually set a different image specifically for them. This is something we haven’t seen in any other app and in today’s world and given the complexity around privacy concerns specifically in our region, this can be a handy feature for users who may have their display images ending up seen by the users they may not want to show to.

Similar treatment has been done with the locations as well.

Whats different

The AR location is fun to begin with and we can locate places easily around. Whilst it is not beneficial for places we already know about, it can come in handy when navigating new places. This is a fun new feature which seems to be pretty basic at the moment but has a lot of development potential in our opinion.

Group Chats are almost what we have accustomed ourselves to, however the party piece is the function which lets users have the option to join or decline BEFORE becoming a part of a group. This is a feature which is beneficial for users like us whose number is in a lot of blogging circles and get added into many new groups almost on daily basis and feel bad about leaving the group and not hurting the people who have added me.

Along the same set of problems is another feature that I personally can use a lot is the “exceptions”. Keeping all the groups quite and creating an exception for selected group like family and team is very useful instead of manually having to silence many number of groups Im already a part of and that can be a daunting exercise.

Finally, we get to try our hands on Audio and Video calling and it has left us impressed. The quality is at par with the likes of whatsapp and that is a big goal to achieve. We haven’t seen that many apps which have successfully delivered the clarity and for that we would give them thumbs up.

Whats still missing

Even though the team has done a great job in successfully creating a very very good chat app that we are happy to see, there are a couple of things we feel still need to be done. For example ability to reply to a specific message is something we have dearly missed in this app. Furthermore, ability to recall the message is also something which needs to be there before making it a full fledged alternative to the established apps. The graphics still feel more refinement here and there but overall satisfactory.

In summary, the long awaited android version has proven to be worth the wait as we have loved the smooth interface, the calling quality, simplicity of adapting and getting used to the new features and new ideas that are honestly benefiting to every day usage.

Its been fun using the app and quite frankly can see ourselves using it in the long run. The issues we mentioned need to be addressed and hopefully more speedily now. The basics are good to begin with, but there is still work to be done to truly able to rise up to the established competition. For now, we are glad to be observing one of the best challenges we have seen so far to the likes of whatsapp, FB messenger and Line.

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