You’d be forgiven for thinking that the messaging app market had been well and truly saturated; there are only so many ways you can make texts, calls and video chats seem fresh. But the guys at UK app studio Ustwo believe their latest product brings a hitherto lacking element of fun and whimsy to proceedings; say hello to Honk!, a “super chat” application which focuses on photo-sharing and creative memes as a medium.
Ustwo co-founder Matt Miller explained that they wanted to “play with the concept of non-verbal communication” and find an expressive, stimulating alternative to text-based interaction. The result offers a colourful array of resources including a choice of colours and fonts, in addition to access to Flickr Creative Commons and native camera-phone functionality.
Available on both iOS and Android devices, Honk! invites users to treat messaging as a game, with the segmented screen layout geared towards producing amusing composites of faces. Honk! also offers a way to visualise jokes and running gags, “show [friends] what you’re up to and exchange nonsensical but engaging messages with them”, making it a potentially popular choice among young, tech-savvy social circles.
This isn’t the first time the Ustwo team have turned their attention to an unconventional visual sharing app. Just last month they launched Rando, an “experimental photo exchange platform” for photography enthusiasts. The premise was that individuals capture an image (or “rando”) which is then sent anonymously to another user at random. Users had to send randos in order to receive them, and the identity of the sender and recipient were never revealed to each other.
Rando was described by its creators as an “anti-social” app which purposely eschewed expected features like “Like” and “Share” to provide a markedly different offering to Instagram and its new parent company Facebook. It was all about the gifting itself, rather than networking.
In stark contrast, Honk! is very much a social concept, but there are underlying similarities in the thinking behind Ustwo’s babies; namely, looking at what everyone else is doing and deciding that consumers may value something a little different.