So app for talk and shares [New Straits Time (Malaysia)]
(New Straits Time (Malaysia) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) The Tech team reports on what's up with the current mobile gabfest
MOVE over SMS, MMS. Forget voice calls. The mobile messaging apps are about to make traditional communications a rarity. Users of LINE, WeChat, Viber, Kakao Talk and Whatsapp share the reasons they have moved on to app-based texting, calling and files sharing.
STEP IN LINE
ACTORS Neelofa and Nazim Othman both admit that LINE is now their preferred app for messaging. Neelofa says she enjoys using LINE because it's simple, convenient, interactive and user-friendly.
"In fact, I have more friends moving over to LINE and they are appearing on my LINE contact list. It is easy to use the free calls or send an audio message, just like what I did in the LINE TV commercial that features my sister Nabila, who wants to borrow a favourite dress of mine. I also like the iconic and expressive Stickers. I can almost convey exactly how I feel to my friends while I'm chatting on LINE. My favourite character is Brown."
Currently, Neelofa uses two LINE accounts, one for communicating with family and friends, while the other is her official account.
"LINE is definitely a lot more fun and engaging than messaging apps in the past. With the Official Account, I get to share updates and contents with my fans such as exclusive photos, video and audio messages on my recent projects, as well as my line of beauty and slimming products. I've always wanted to share more but some of the existing social media tools have limited features and they are all hosted on different platforms," she adds.
Nazim's LINE account has helped him to manage communication tasks for work.
"Compared with the older apps, LINE's features closely resemble the way I use my smartphone and social media to communicate with family, friends and fans.
I also use LINE to communicate with those I work with closely because it is extremely convenient since LINE is a cross-platform app that is available on both mobile and PC. I also get to interact with my fans through LINE Official Account and it's definitely an honour that we get to use this for our fans," says the actor.
LINE has also offered Nazim entertainment. "Besides using it as a messaging platform, I enjoy playing LINE Games. It is an ideal activity to pass the time in between shoots or while waiting for my friends. Some of the games are simple yet quite stimulating especially whencompeting with other LINE friends. I am also hooked on LINE Camera, which provides extensive list of functions to enhance and decorate my photos. I can snap and share it on LINE and other social networking channels," he says.
Yap Mei Shan, 25, got hooked on LINE after using the Stickers function. " It features a variety of emotions and many a times, I just need to send one sticker to express how I feel or explain what I'm doing. It saves me time from having to explain them in words. LINE Camera, which I find extremely fun and exciting, is one of the features that I use almost every day. And most of my pictures have LINE Stickers as decorations," says Yap.
She uses the app on her Samsung Galaxy Note and her desktop for personal and professional communications on a daily basis.
Yap says: "LINE is more engaging because it provides more functions in one application. LINE provides me with many services such as text message, free call, audio messages and games. But more importantly, I can install LINE not only on a Smartphone but PC and tablet as well. These integrated features have become very essential to me."
As a Malaysian working in Singapore, Yap hopes LINE will soon add video call feature. I don't get to meet my friends and family back home in Malaysia very often. Sometimes calling alone isn't enough. It would be nice to 'see' them once in a while."
For iPhone 5 owner Daniel Tiu, who started using smart devices eight years ago, LINE serves his communication and entertainment needs in a simple and reliable manner.
"In the past, SMS, MMS or Bubble Talk only allow us to do one thing. With LINE, I can make high quality voice calls, send text messages, stickers, photos and audio messages, as well as create and update personal timeline," says Tiu.
"I've also discovered the joy of being ahead in getting news on my favourite artistes such as 2PM and Ayumi Hamasaki via LINE Official Accounts. It feels like I'm the first to receive the news. I'm also following Rakuten Online Shopping, which sends me promotion news and shopping vouchers. Personally, the integration of these features are smart and they are major factors of my dependence on LINE," he adds.
Her decision to accept a job offer in Brunei Darussalam earlier this year led 39 year-old Harny Abu Khair to explore a more versatile suite of digital communications.
"I have used several phone and Internet apps before for communications when I was living abroad for a number of years. Communication technologies have advanced over time and there are a lot of choices now. Back then there was VoIP, now there are other apps that you can use freely and their services are available as long as you can get free WiFi, says Harny.
Recently using her Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 and a Blackberry smartphone, Harny went on to try several apps for messsaging but got hooked on Viber as it allows her to make voice calls.
"I have several chat apps installed on my phone but I use most of them mainly for texting. These phone apps evolve over the years by providing voice recording such as Whatsapp, WeChat, and others. I started using Viber a few months ago and make calls whenever I chance upon free and open WiFi services. I find this mobile messaging app similar to Skype, only better," she adds.
For Harny living abroad means having to make expensive calls home to keep in touch with family and friends.
"Brunei's Internet service provider is among the more expensive in the region so I have make do with any free WiFi services that I can find to make calls. I am not picky with apps as long as they serve my needs but Viber is easier to download and use," she says.
Lee Ying Hwei, 28, has been using a few mobile social communication applications for a while, but since she came across WeChat, and fell in love with it, she never looks back.
WeChat, www.wechat.com, is a relatively new social app that allows people to connect and communicate with friends with new features not found in other similar apps.
Among them are messaging features such as video talk, hold to talk, live chat and other interesting features.
Lee, who is online almost 24/7, says WeChat allows her to connect with her father in Kuantan more effectively. "There has never been an easier way to communicate with my father than through WeChat," she adds.
Both of them use WeChat's Hold to Talk feature to send their voice over instead of text. "My father is an elderly so it's quiet hard for him to type on the screen of the tablet. The Hold to Talk feature makes it easy for him," says Lee, who bought an iPad for her father to use.
Lee, who has been using WeChat since last year, says that with the voice message feature, all her father needs to do is just press and speak, and the message will be sent.
"It's easy and the best thing is I can hear his voice, and vice versa," she adds.
Besides Hold to Talk, there are a number of other WeChat features that Lee likes such as the People Nearby where you can connect and meet friends with WeChat at the place you're at.
TIME TO TALK
Human resource consultant Nicholas Yap, 25, started using Kakao Talk two years ago but did not have many friends who were using it then. "When I first installed Kakao Talk, the app was not as extensive as it is today. Even though not many of my friends were using it then, I thought the app was quite fun to use. But when I had to reformat my iPhone on one occasion, the app was deleted as well. I reinstalled it a couple of months ago on my iPhone 4 and discovered that there are 138 people in my phone book who are using it too," he says.
Today most of Yap's high school friends are connecting with each other using Kakao. For Yap, the emoticons available on the app are really unique and expressive. "I like to chat using Kakao and include the emoticons to make it more visual," he adds.
Another feature he likes to use on Kakao is the group call. "I usually use the group call feature when watching football. Although we could not get together to watch matches in the same venue but we can still discuss the match while it is on," says Yap.
He adds: "Additionally, the promo materials that are sent our way are quite exciting. The last promo came from Starbucks. I like it that we can get something out of the app instead of just paying for an app that does not offer anything else beyond communication tools. In the future I'd love it if Kakao can give users more tools to customise the appearance of the interface, for example, offer colour codes to distinguish one set of friends from the other," suggests Yap.
AND WHAT'S UP?
For old school buddies Afiza Aziz and Hartati Yahya, Whatsapp is a brilliant way to catch up with each other and their group of long- time friends. Afiza, a Kuala Lumpur-based homemaker, and Hartati, an assistant vice-president with a commercial bank based in Malacca, leave their day-to-day stress and worries, and often let their hair down when they go online on Whatsapp.
"I chose Whatsapp because it was the first app/platform introduced for interactions between Android and Blackberry users and most smartphone brands. Unlike SMS, which I used before, Whatsapp is free and you can chat with more than one person at one go. Now we can chat in groups of maximum 50 friends per group when previously it was only limited to 10 per group. I like using the app as it is fun and expressive," says Afiza.
In agreement, Hartati adds: "Being someone expressive, I love the variety of emoticons and symbols, which add `colours' and `expressions' to the conversation! There's also the recorded voice chat. If I'm too lazy to type, I can just record what I want to say and send it! This feature is great especially in my Whatsapp conversation with my children as they can hear me nag with full expressions and all," she says with a laugh.
For future upgrades, Hartati would like to see the availability of separate trail for conversation and media sharing such as photos and video so that the Whatsapp conversation is "neater" and not so confusing especially when members of a group share a lot of things in different medium at the same time.
"Whatsapp is more engaging because we can create groups for family and friends, and we can have active conversation with the whole members of the group about anything at one go.
"A lot of sharing can be done hence it is more engaging and it bonds us closer. For example, best friends living abroad can talk and share with us as if they are near to us ... it's a therapy for those friends as they won't feel alone in foreign land and will feel very much at home. Another group, which I have to thank Whatsapp for, is the family group.
"With this, we can actually bridge the gap between generations and share things frequently even though we live in different States. We can also plan family activities more easily," she adds.
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