Kik’s group video calling feature adds ‘talking heads’ to conversations

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Kik, a popular messaging app with more than 300 million users, has taken an interesting approach with its latest feature — group video calling.

Rather than filling up the whole screen in a group video call, Kik’s implementation adds up to six “talking heads” at the top of the screen, so users can continue to message each other. A simple video toggle at the top of individual and group chats enables users to show themselves in real life.

“We’ve added full integration into the conversation,” Chris Best, CTO and co-founder of Kik, told Digital Trends. “A lot of platforms that have video chat have something like a hybrid, or they have something that feels a lot like a phone call.”

It’s true that Kik’s group video call method is different from what you expect in apps like Skype, but it’s not entirely new. Facebook Messenger has a similar feature it introduced late this year called Instant Live Video that lets users video chat and message at the same time, though it’s limited to one-to-one conversations.

Kik’s demographic is young, and Best believes the strategy of letting the conversation flow while still enabling video calls is key to making the feature compelling for its target audience.

The app added a bots earlier this year to compete with chat bots from competing platforms such as Facebook Messenger and Telegram. The company says more than 20,000 bots have been built on Kik’s platform since its debut in April.