Chatrooms are making a comeback, and Bindle is leading the charge

Bindle chat app
Don’t look now, but chatrooms are making a comeback. Kik Messenger recently added hashtags to build group chats of up to 50 people and Twitter introduced group direct messages for private gatherings 140 characters at a time. Meanwhile chat services like Slack and HipChat are tech sector darlings for office communication. Chris Toy believes this is a sign of an industry shift, and his mass messaging app Bindle is positioned ahead of the trend.

“The last decade or so of social networking has been about defining and acquiring personal networks of friends, followers, contacts, etc.,” Toy says. “The next phase we’re seeing companies focus on – and struggle with – is what to do with them. Facebook and LinkedIn have chosen to become media publishing platforms, and Snapchat just did the same thing with Discover. With Bindle, we’re much more focused on what attracted us all to those platforms in the first place — easy, satisfying communication and connection.”

As it launches version 2.0, Bindle’s focus is on being a platform for communication between its users is clear. The rooms, created by users to house conversation about a specific topic and searchable labeled with searchable hashtags, are quick-moving places where the conversation can be shaped easily by the personalities in the room.

If AIM had continued to grow up with the generation that used it, it may have become Bindle.

The basic view of each room is a continuous stream where messages pop up and scroll up the page as more people chime in. But there’s a lot more going on than just an ongoing river of text. Users can address one another using @mentions a la Twitter. Having your name mentioned delivers a push notification so even when you aren’t in app you can check in and see why your name came up. For discussions that require more privacy, users can whisper at one another using a “/whisper” command to keep the text just between the two of them. Users can also set “statuses” of sorts, using an “/emote” command to convey an action or feeling to the room.

Some of these features will feel familiar to users of chat platforms like HipChat and Slack. Toy says Bindle has a place in professional settings as well. “We’re actually seeing Bindle used frequently for professional purposes right now, especially in any networking context. People are creating Bindle chats for their professional peer groups, like iOS engineers or startup founders, and at conferences like Techmanity,” he says.

But while other apps are quick to define their focus, Bindle is more open-ended. Users can pop into their work chat—likely a passworded group to wall off communications just between colleagues — then check out other, more open chats to see what people are saying about other topics of personal interest.

“The unique hashtag ID for each chat makes it really easy to quickly put the group together even if you don’t work at the same company or don’t even have each other’s contact information. All of our features are designed to make it easy to get people together and communicate, and that will continue to find relevance in work environments for sure, whether for networking or internal enterprise uses,” Toy explains.

One of the other strongest suits of Bindle is its adaptation of more modern methods of communication. In specific, Toy understands that messaging is no longer just about text—it’s a visual experience as well. “Visual communication is core to digital communication and we want to make it fluid and efficient, in line with every other aspect of Bindle.” Bindle users are able to pull up stickers and GIFs, sourced through Giphy, and integrate them right into the conversation. Got the perfect reaction GIF for a situation? Search, tap, send, and watch the “lols” roll in.

“Our users already comment on how much they prefer how we’ve integrated stickers or GIFs over other messaging apps – and we’re always thinking about how our users want to express themselves,” Toy says. While custom stickers and GIFs aren’t available yet, Toy says it’s something they’re looking into for the future. “I think easily creating your own is the direction that those media are taking next, and we’ve been looking at it too.”

Of course, the challenge that comes with allowing users to upload what they want freely and use it at will is similar to the problem of allowing them to say whatever they like: there’s always going to be someone out there who ruins the whole thing for everyone.

Hate speech and verbal abuse has become an all too prominent part of platforms like Twitter and Reddit. Bindle has ambitions for bigger rooms—up to 3,000 people—which means moderation may become a problem.

“Historically, the best moderated communities are those that have been given the tools to moderate themselves and define their own culture – that’s what we plan on doing regardless of whether your chat is for your closest friends or for people you just met,” Toy offers. Whether that’s enough to keep larger groups from getting overrun by troll tactics will have to be seen.

If AIM had continued to grow up with the generation that used it, it may have become Bindle. The cross-platform communication app has that familiarity of typing in your screen name and hopping online to find some people with similar interests, but it’s filled with the modern flair that we’ve become so used to on platforms like Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, and Twitter. Bindle is group chat grown up, and its scalable model approach to group chat presents interesting possibilities both for networking and personal communication.

Bindle is available to download for free for iOS and Android.

Emerging Tech

Twitter is officially a teenager now. Are we raising a monster?

On March 21, 2006, Jack Dorsey sent the first ever tweet. Thirteen years later, Twitter has fundamentally changed the way we communicate. Here are some of the myriad ways it's done that.
Social Media

Facebook Messenger adds quoted replies to better organize group chats

Facebook is rolling out a feature that should help make group chats a whole lot more organized. The feature allows you to reply to specific messages within a group chat, so others will be able to tell what you're replying to.

Sending SMS messages from your PC is easier than you might think

Texting is a fact of life, but what to do when you're in the middle of something on your laptop or just don't have your phone handy? Here's how to send a text message from a computer, whether you prefer to use an email client or Windows 10.

Teens are using Google Docs as the modern version of passing notes in class

Google Docs is reportedly being used by teens as a secret communications app. Instead of passing notes, students are now using the software's live chat function or comment boxes to talk with their friends while in the middle of classes.

The Tacs Nato-Lens is a watch for those who live life through a camera lens

Not all watches have to be round, or connect to your phone. The Tacs Nato-Lens is a stylish piece of wristwear with a design inspired by classic SLR cameras, making it a geeky timepiece for the camera and watch fan.

HMD Global admits Nokia 7 Plus handsets sent user data to China

Nokia could be in some hot water. According to recent reports, Nokia 7 models may be secretly sending data to China without the user knowing about it. Nokia says that the issue was a software bug and that it has been fixed.
Product Review

The new iPad Mini isn’t a beauty, but it performs like a beast

Apple’s new iPad Mini has beastly performance, fluid iOS 12 software, and good battery life. It also looks like it came straight out of 2015, because the design hasn’t been changed. Here's our review of Apple’s 7.9-inch tablet.

Here are the best iPad Pro keyboard cases to pick up with your new tablet

The iPad Pro range can double as laptops, but they do need proper keyboards to fill in effectively. Thankfully, there are loads to choose from and we rounded up the best iPad Pro keyboard cases right here.

24 must-have apps for rooted Android phones and tablets

Rooting your Android device opens up a world of possibilities, along with a few apps. Here are 24 of our favorites, so you can make the most of your rooted device and unleash the true power of Android.

Wring the most out of iOS with the best commands for Siri

You may not know all the things you can say to Siri -- after all, Apple never released an official list of commands for its virtual assistant. Thankfully, we've compiled a list of the best Siri commands to help you out.

Breeze through security with these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags

Getting through airport security is a drag, but your laptop bag shouldn’t be. Thankfully, these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags will get you and your gear to your destination with ease.

Flex your thumbs (and your brain) with these fun texting games

Gaming consoles keep getting more advanced, but you can still have fun with the good old Latin alphabet. Here are our picks for the best texting games, so you can make the most fun out of that limited data plan or basic cell phone.

Alpina makes its AlpinerX smartwatch even more attractive with new colors

Alpina has introduced four new colors to its AlpinerX smartwatch range, breaking the usually sporty watch out into a more everyday casual design, and given the tech a slight makeover too.

New gold finish makes Frederique Constant’s hybrid smartwatch flashier than ever

Frederique Constant has found considerable success with its luxury hybrid smartwatch, the Hybrid Manufacture, and has launched several new color schemes to help bring it even more attention.