Fast, yet frustrating video messaging
These days, fast, fuss-free messaging apps are edging out services like FaceTime and Skype, since they’re often easier to use on the go. Hoping to stay relevant, Skype released Qik (pronounced quick), a new messaging app for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone that only sends short video clips and does so in as few steps as possible.
While Qik has a pretty, bare-bones design, sending videos with the app is more cumbersome than other apps like it. There’s little about that makes it more compelling to use instead of Snapchat , Glide , or even Facebook’s Slingshot , especially since you cannot access your Skype contacts.
Setup and design
The app isn’t at all like Skype; you don’t log in with your Skype account and you don’t get access to your Skype contacts. Instead, you log into the app with your phone number and only communicate with the contacts on your phone that also have Qik. Because you login with you phone number, you cannot use Qik on more than one device, but that might not matter since there are no tablet versions of the app.
There’s no way to enter someone’s phone number or email address manually in the app (I tried), they need to be part of your phone contacts in order to send a message to them. For me, that’s a sticking point, because for an app with Skype in the name, I expect to be able to chat with my Skype contacts.
The app’s main screen (left) shows all of your conversations. Tap any of them to see the videos in the chat (right). Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET
If you friends don’t already use Qik, they’ll get a text with a link to download the app, and they’ll need to install it to watch your videos. Again, if you need to use the app to send messages, as opposed to sending them as texts or emails, I don’t see why I couldn’t create an optional username that I could share with people not already in my phone contacts so that I can send messages to them.
When you first open the app, you get a blank slate of gradient blue bars and a prominent bright red record button at the top. As you send videos to your friends, the app’s home screen fills up with conversations, with blurred out still shots from the latest sent or received video as a background. From there, you’ll enter different conversations with your friends to send new messages. You can only send videos with Qik, not text or still photos. While simple video messaging is popular these days, I’d still rather have the flexibility of sending multiple types of messages.
Video chatting: Shoot and share
There are few ways to send a new video chat with Qik. You can either swipe down on the app’s home screen to open the camera or just tap the bright red circle at the top. You’ll see your camera’s viewfinder and you can start recording your message, using either your front or back camera. You get 42 seconds or recording time, which is Skype’s nod to “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”