Honk brands itself as a “superchat” app. It allows users to connect with one another via Facebook or email address and then exchange rich messages with one another in discrete threads similar to those seen in dedicated group messaging apps such as the now-defunct Beluga.
To start a new thread, users must create an account either using Facebook or their email address. Once this is done, users can run through a brief tutorial thread in which they can see the possibilities of the app and try posting a few “Honks” themselves. After this, they can create a new thread, assign it a topic and then invite friends to join them. There are three means of doing this — adding Facebook friends who are already using the app, adding someone directly by email address or uploading the device’s address book to search for contacts who are already using the app. The app does not give any feedback if it does not find any results, which is an aspect that could use some improvement. It would also perhaps benefit from the ability to make a public post on Facebook inviting the user’s friends to join, as at present if you don’t have any Facebook friends using Honk, you simply don’t see them.
Once a thread has been started, all participants may post a new “Honk” by tapping the app’s mascot in the corner of the screen. An individual Honk can include a background image sourced from the user’s camera, photo library or Flickr; text in any color (though only one font appears to be available); and freeform drawings in any color. These can all be combined to create annotated picture messages, though the size is a little limited. Users may rotate their device into landscape mode when freeform drawing, however, allowing them for greater accuracy if required.
Honk is a high-quality app with excellent production values, a slick interface and a clear sense of fun. It is easy to set up and get started with, though it would benefit from greater on-screen feedback when searching for users. It may also benefit from some sort of public “broadcast” functionality for users to either find new friends or help their friends to find them, and the ability to share an image of a Honk thread in progress to Facebook from within the app may also provide incentive for friends to join up and check it out.
Ultimately, Honk will live or die depending on whether Ustwo can convince users to join up and participate in ongoing conversations. In the long term, the app may need some additional avenues through which to acquire users and may also benefit from some monetization options — perhaps purchasable “stickers” to add to Honks, or maybe different font options for text. As it stands, however, assuming you can find someone to exchange Honks with, it’s a lot of fun and an entertaining means of cross-platform communication.