Enter Squawk Messenger, an application that launched just this week on iOS devices and currently in private beta on Android. Squawk comes from quite the team of creators, led by CEO and gaming vet Alex Karweit, and “Creative Juggernaut” Chloe Bregman.
The most notable thing about the team is its advisory board, which is made up completely of teenagers — giving the app’s creative flow much-needed insight. It offers a variety of ways with which its users can express themselves, whether it’s through the creation of memes, drawings, collages, “selfies,” animated stickers, GIF images, voice messaging, and of course, text messaging. Users can also add each other as friends a la Facebook, which prevents unwanted contact. Like Kik, Squawk has a username based system, so no phone number is required.
“We knew that connecting on mobile devices was becoming more asynchronous, personal, and self-expressive, and we wanted to focus on the market that shared those values. So with a teen board of advisors, we had that market show us exactly what they needed,” says Chloe.
In addition to the aforementioned features, Squawk Messenger gives users plenty of options with which to customize their social experience: everything from profile images, chat bubble colors, and conversation backgrounds can be altered to fit various styles and tastes. As is the case with many other messaging apps, users can fill their profiles with their name and email address, but two notable standout sections include the user’s school and “5 Things You Didn’t Know About Me.”
As far as monetizing the application, a hot topic for many messaging apps, Squawk has a unique view based on CEO Alex Karweit’s experience at EA and Trion Worlds.
“With games I’ve worked on, people are genuinely excited to spend money,” says the CEO. “Our goal is to keep that philosophy for Squawk – we won’t make money at the expense of our users or their experience.”
A great philosophy to be sure, but speaking of the experience, how does the app look and feel on iOS? Well, we had the chance to try it out for a couple of days and we’re pleased to say it functions rather well.
As you can see from the screenshots below, the look and feel of the application practically screams “digital party time,” which isn’t a bad thing, especially if you’re someone who loves to party. It has a fun side, a practical side, and certainly has plenty of features and abilities (text bomb, anyone?) to keep the masses chatting it up for quite awhile.
We really didn’t run into any problems when downloading or using the application, which is actually quite amazing considering how much the app brings to the table. The photo editor can stand on its own against those from apps like Instagram — you can never have too many photo filter or editing options — and what Squawk does offer, it gets right. Overall, it’s a pretty stable and feature-filled application — one of the few worthy of a 5 star review — and it’ll be quite interesting to see where it goes from here.
Squawk Messenger is now available in iTunes, and as mentioned is currently in the internal beta stage for Android. No word yet on whether or not the app will be coming to Windows Phone or other operating systems.