Instant messengers are an integral part of our life and are also one of the most challenging platforms to build. We have previously reviewed Telegram X and explored all ins and outs of it. Today, we put another popular messenger under the scanner and review hike 6.0, which was released by Hike Private Limited on 31st December last year and has managed to bag over 10,000,000+ installs on the Google Play Store in just over a week.
A quick disclaimer before we begin:
This article is not sponsored by Hike Private Limited and is solely based on our usage experience of hike 6.0 for Android. Please note, it’s 21st century and data is very valuable. We encourage our readers to grant access to your personal data, to only those apps and services, whom you trust.
We have divided the review into various categories listed below followed by the final verdict. Let’s get started.
- Our Impressions
- The Final Verdict
Look & Feel
- Hike 6.0 comes with a refreshed user interface over Hike 5, with a primary focus on stickers. Eliminating the profile page, Hike decided to switch to a navigation bar which pops out of a rather unusual right side, presenting the user with various options from changing the display picture, sharing the Hike ID, friends list and app settings.
- A messenger should concentrate on messaging rather than ordering food or tracking the user’s health and fitness. Hike 6.0 is built on that not so surprising philosophy and comes without all the extra bells and whistles like ‘Explore’ or payments. It does what a messenger is supposed to do while retaining the Timeline feature. Neat.
- The messenger comes with a night mode, which we consider to be a staple feature in 2019. It does a great job of easing the user’s eyes during night time usage.
- That brings us to themes and Hike 6.0 disappoints as it comes with no new themes, retaining the same set introduced with Hike 5.0. Moreover, the themes only change the minor accent colors of the app, keeping the primary color white. This makes Night theme the only one to change colors throughout the app, which is a big downer for people who prefer to use dark colors over light.
- Hike was the first messenger in India to bring the seen indicator to instant messaging with the iconic ‘R’ symbol appearing beside the double ticks. Hike 6.0 proudly carries over this feature.
- Being able to delete messages for all is a pretty common feature in 2019, with most messaging apps implementing it, except Hike.
- Despite Hike 6.0 being the successor of Hike 5, it misses out on the swipe to reply feature. The user will have to use the ancient method of tapping and holding a message to bring up more options and then select the reply button from the far north of the screen, making the chatting experience more difficult.
- Adding insult to injury, the new version of Hike still doesn’t support formatting text. These basic features have been implemented in other equally popular messengers a long time ago while Hike is yet to do the same.
- Hike 6.0 does retain all of the awesome features of its predecessors, a unique one being Chat Themes. Most messaging apps allow users to set wallpapers. Though this adds a personal touch, it may not feel appropriate for all conversations. Chat Themes in Hike allows the user to set unique wallpapers for all conversations. The only controversial part of it is that a change of chat theme by one user changes the same for all other participants of the chat.
- Back from when Hike used to be innovative and disruptive, comes the Nudge feature. Double tapping whilst in a conversation will send a nudge to the other participants, vibrating their phones quite a few times along with the usual notification tone. It’s fun and makes Hike chats feel more natural.
- Also retained by Hike 6.0 is a very unique and interesting feature introduced back in Hike 4.0 – real-time sticker suggestions based on what you type. This saves the user from searching hundreds of stickers from the sticker palette. Making chatting more fun is the Text to Sticker feature, also carried over from previous versions, which generates cool stickers from the text you type into the text box.
- Users will also be able to send free SMS from Hike 6.0 (you will have to earn them by sending hike messages), to friends who are offline. This feature does feel a little redundant in 2019 and can be turned off from the app settings.
- One of the most heavily marketed features of Hike is Stickers. With most of it’s users belonging to the younger crowd, stickers have been the most loved feature since they were first introduced. Hike claims to have over 20,000 free stickers with Indian regional stickers in over 40 regional languages. Stickers help you portray your feelings and express yourself in a fun way. Hike 6.0 carries the name “StickerChat” with stickers being the main focus evident from the redesigned sticker shop now part of the main landing page.
- Coming to the camera, we found the quality of pictures to be rather dismal with a tap to focus option that does not feel very effective. Other than photos and videos, Hike allows you to capture looping videos called “Yoyo”. Disappointing us even more, the Hike camera misses out the most basic feature of all – landscape mode!
- Hike supports voice notes, however, it does not support hands-free recording, which is another detail overlooked.
- If you need to take a look at the media shared in a chat, you can view them by clicking on the person’s name in a chat. On low-end/mid-range devices and/or if the number of shared media is large, you will be kept waiting for minutes while Hike tries to fathom what it has been told to do. Chances are you will receive a message saying hike is not responding. We tested this on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, Xiaomi Redmi 5A and Xiaomi Redmi A1 with the same results.*Sighs*
- If, somehow, you manage to have the patience to stick with the black screen, after loading is complete you will notice that Hike separates shared media into: Photos, Videos, Audio and Files. There is no way to find all those links you shared or you kept to visit later. Unfortunately Hike 6.0 doesn’t improve this and instead adds a bug where random photos and videos appear multiple times. Here’s hoping it will be fixed soon. Fingers crossed!
Search & Filter
- Hike allows you to search messages from the Search message option in the menu. But for a message too old, you might as well forget it, as it can take forever, especially on low-end devices, taking into consideration the app doesn’t crash altogether.
- Hike doesn’t have support for searching messages across multiple conversations and can only search for people and groups. Hike 6.0 is no different.
- No options to filter search results.
- Hike groups can accommodate up to a thousand members. That’s pretty impressive.
- It also supports mentions, replies but misses out on hashtags.
- You’ll also be able to pin a message to the top, which is very useful in large groups.
- Administrators have lots of control over group members. They’ll be able to choose who can add members and if the added members should be able to send messages, stickers and nudges.
- Administrators can convert a group to a public group allowing any Hike user to find the group and members to share a joining link.
- Hike supports both voice and video calling. On clicking the phone symbol in the conversation, you will be asked to choose between them.
- The quality of voice calling is fairly good but there is no way to control the volume.
- Our Video calling experience was worse, with significant delays and stutters. Annoyingly, we didn’t find a button to view the conversation while in the video call. Pressing the back button kept bringing up a page requesting to allow hike to draw over other apps.
- Hike does not support group voice calls.
Security & Privacy
- Hike’s privacy features have always pleased us with all the different controls to prevent specific people from viewing specific aspects of your Hike profile.
- With Hike, you can choose to share your profile picture, last seen and birthday with only those you want, as all aspects of your profile may not be appropriate for everyone.
- Hike features a hidden mode by which you can hide entire conversations. It hides conversations from plain sight which can be accessed with a pin. So even if your phone is with someone else, they will not be able to see them. They can be accessed by clicking the Hike logo on the chat screen.
- Hike also has options to mute conversations. You can choose how many hours you want to mute them for and whether you want notifications from them while they are muted.
- As we discussed in our previous review of Telegram X, we explained why it is so important and vital for a modern messenger to be cross-platform. A messaging platform that delivers an identical user experience and feature set across all consumer platforms like PCs, Mac, Android, iOS and Web is incredible. Imagine working on your PC and having to switch to your smartphone to reply to important messages every five minutes.
- Hike messenger was launched about six years ago and they’re still debating whether to create a web version of Hike or not. Forget about a dedicated Windows 10/UWP or macOS app anytime ever.
Some More Features Worth Mentioning
- Hike’s Timeline allows users to post photos or text and also react to other’s posts by liking and commenting on them.
- Hike also allows deleting comments made by you and your friends on your post.
- Hike posts your new display picture on the Timeline every time you change it.
- The Timeline also allows the user to post stories.
- One tiny feature we love is being able to like/heart a post multiple times. It’s a unique touch over the usual one like per person strategy followed everywhere. Hike automatically attaches remarks, for example ‘Liked it’ or ‘Loved it’, depending on the number of times someone has tapped like on your post.
- Do note that these features have been part of Hike for a long time and have just been carried over to Hike 6.0.
The Final Verdict
Being die hard users of Hike messenger from the days of its inception in 2012, back when it was a simple lightweight messenger, we have observed all the changes, good and bad, that the app has gone through all these years. Hike began its journey being the innovative new kid, adding disruptive features we all drooled about. As the years passed, the innovative features gave way to bloat and the user experience started to take a toll.
Today, the overall experience of the app is not smooth and does not feel optimized for lower to mid-range mobile devices. Hike is still missing many important features and at the same time has managed to find a place in our hearts by coming up with all the unique features throughout these years.
We welcome their decision of launching Hike 6.0 as a messenger free of all the bloat Hike 5.0 had accumulated treating it as a silver lining and hope for the golden days of this app to return again.