Kik for iOS review: Kik doesn't lack features, just users

4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Kik provides a solid chat experience across multiple platforms. You get a lot of options for adding graphics, memes, and photos to your chats.

The Bad You can't send your location in chat messages. You can't turn off Read status in messages.

The Bottom Line Kik is a solid chat app with fun extras, but if you don't already have friends using it, there's nothing to really set it apart from the competition.

8.0 Overall
  • Installation and Setup 8.0
  • Features and Support 8.0
  • Interface 7.0
  • Performance 9.0

Kik is a free messaging app in the vein of WhatsApp Messenger, with tons of extras that will enhance your conversations. It's easy to use, as well, and I like that it works across all platforms.

Yet, all of those good points apply only if you have friends who use it. If not, you'll be in a messaging graveyard.

With roots dating back to 2010, Kik has been through a lot of changes over the years. Still, between iMessage and rivals like WhatsApp, it's in a crowded space. That's why even with 120 million users, it still has a long way to go if it wants to compete with the major messaging players.

Setup

Initial setup for Kik is fairly easy. Instead of authenticating your phone number similar to what iMessage or WhatsApp requires, you're asked to setup an account with a username. The username is how friends will contact you.

In order for you to get the most out of the service, Kik requests access to your address book. Your contacts are then matched with those on Kik's servers to find and alert you of contacts who are also using the service.

With Kik's long run in the App Store, I expected to have quite a few friends who were using the service. But after allowing Kik to scan my address book, the service only found five contacts who use it. Out of those five, I attempted to send a message to three, all of which returned a message stating the user hadn't used Kik in a long, long time. The lack of friends on the service was disheartening, to say the least, but your mileage may vary.

Should you opt to forgo sending your contact list to Kik's servers, you can manually add contacts so long as you know a username. It's a bit more tedious, but works nonetheless.

Messaging

Once I did find some friends who use the app, I was able to strike up a conversation just as quickly and easily as I would on iMessage or WhatsApp. Kik offers an iOS, Android, and Windows Phone app, making it possible to chat with nearly any mobile user.

In the conversation view, a text field sits just above the keyboard, flanked on each side by a button that reveals various embeddable items (more on these later) and a send button.

A sent message is accompanied by three different status letters. The first is an S, signifying the message was sent. The sent indicator then disappears, being replaced by a D and then an R; for delivered and read. Indicators such as this are common place among messaging apps and nice to see in Kik.

One thing I wasn't able to figure out on the iOS app was how I can disable marking messages as read. Sometimes I realize only after reading a message I don't have time to fully reply. When a message is marked as read, it creates a feeling of having to reply, due to not wanting to offend the other person in the conversation. iMessage includes the option to turn this feature off, but WhatsApp does not. I wish it was a standard feature among messaging apps, as not everyone wants the read status of a message to be known.

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