A new challenger is entering the arena of instant messaging. A space already all but saturated with frontline IM platforms such as the BlackBerry messenger, SnapChat, WeChat and Whatsapp.
The new challenger? HowFar.
Howfar integrates a good number of features from other instant messaging platforms but doesn’t seem to make any significant improvement to them. For example, Howfar incorporates the user’s telephone number, just like Whatsapp.
With the Howfar’s hunter green UI, different only in shades from Whatsapp’s lime green, one is inclined to think it’s a local knockoff of the facebook owned IM. That’s not where the similarities stop, however. “How far?” is simply how you say “Whats up?” in the local Nigerian context where the app was developed. So, Howfar, Whatsapp. It sure smells like a matchup.
It does seem that’s how far the similarities go. Howfar, unlike Whatapp, is a location-based instant messaging app. Meaning, it allows users search people nearby via the GPS/location feature, and interact with them. You basically meetup with all these random people around your immediate location.
Just like Whatsapp, it requires the users’ cell phone number to be uploaded on the apps’ server in other to exchange messages and also syncs the user’s contact and indicate those who are on the app and provides the option to chat or view broadcast messages.
Considering the fact that Howfar draws copiously from Whatsapp, the app’s features are comparatively not as robust to excite a challenge.
Some of the drawbacks include users’ limitation to texts and images, with no option to send audio and video files, on top of a UI that, though smart looking, is marred by a sea of icons that are almost impossible to navigate.
There are more, images shared via the platform take forever to load, when they load at all.
We can safely assume these are expected quirks of version 2.0, but coming into a market that appears to be already saturated with the more popular instant messaging platforms one wonders what edge Howfar will have over these platforms. It’s hard to see any, but going by the number of downloads indicated on the Play Store – more than 10, 000, the app might be a better alternative to a similar platform like 2go.
If you are looking for the ultimate user experience in the instant messaging universe, Howfar may not be your prime spot, but if meeting random people on a daily basis is your thing, then check out Howfar. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also free.
Howfar is available on Google’s Play Store for Android devices and on the App Store for iOS devices.