In 2006, a couple of Nigerian students from the University of Jos developed an instant messaging application called QbeeChat. The application boasts functionalities similar to those of Whatsapp and Facebook.
Since 2016 when the app was first launched, QbeeChat has been upgraded and changes have been made based on flaws that users have noticed in other instant messaging apps.
I downloaded the app here, and set it up with name and phone number in the required fields. I noticed that the verification message was sent to me via Telegram, another instant messaging app.
Because this is a different messaging app that is supposed to be a better option to other chat apps, I was a bit surprised at the several similarities between Telegram and QbeeChat.
What’s with Qbeechat and Telegram?
I spoke with Abel Alabi Abubakar, who is a co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Hispire, the company that developed QbeeChat.
Abubakar explained that QbeeChat was first built on the Telegram API. This allowed it to sync chats and contacts from the existing Telegram account of a QbeeChat user.
“QbeeChat is an instant messaging app, which was first built under the Telegram API and was made to help fill the missing spaces in social networking.”Abel Alabi Abubakar, Co-founder and CTO of Hispire
The good, the bad, and the please-upgrade-me
In addition to features similar to Telegram, Qbeechat has some other impressive features. One of them is the secret chat which you could set to self-destruct whenever you want. That means that after a set time, such a message would no longer be visible to the other person.
When I launched the app, I was greeted with an advertisement. This is not really a plus, but the app has to be profitable and in-app adverts are an easy way to do that. However, for ads to be the first items that pop up, not very cool.
On the app, I could make calls to my friends on my contact list. I could chat with them. I could also create groups with a larger number of people than Whatsapp allows, largely due to the Telegram API.
There is however another feature on the app which is not on Telegram. This is the ‘channels’ feature. It is similar to what is offered on MTN’s Ayoba. Channel is a hub of interesting text and infographics that center on areas of interest. For example, there could a football channel, a fashion channel, a business or politics channel etc.
Because of its glaring similarities to Telegram, it may not really seem to stand out that much. Reviews on Playstore also expressed the same sentiments. It is clear that the QbeeChat team listened, because there is an upgrade on Playstore that is a whole new cruise.
According to Abubakar, QbeeChat is making a major change to the business, design and operational model of the app. An upgraded version was released which does not use the Telegram API. There is no link to telegram users as well and friends need to be added from the friend list on the app.
The latest version does not have as much functionalities as the previous one yet. But according to Abubakar, “we are working on a new update which would include a lot more functionalities”
Here is how Qbeechat is similar to Whatsapp
Just like Whatsapp which has primary features like status, chats and calls, Qbeechat’s primary features are stories, chats and calls. The stories are Qbeechat’s version of Whatsapp statuses and they also disappear after 24 hours.
Also like Whatsapp, Qbeechat is end-to-end encrypted, has 2-step verification and stores the chat data of its users in cloud.
Differences between QbeeChat and Whatsapp
Unlike Whatsapp, Qbeechat’s cloud storage does not require users to have accounts with third-party service providers like Gmail. This can come in handy for people who either do not have Gmail accounts or do not want it linked to a chat account.
On the app, a user can make friends with and chat with people who may not be on the person’s contact list. the app allows users to search for people in any corner of the world by simply typing the name in the search box.
In subsequent upgrades, the processes on the app can be more simplified, especially the process of adding new friends
Users can add links to their other social media accounts in the settings->Edit profile and avatar section.
Qbeechat is a potpouri of functionalities. There is something from Twitter, something from Facebook, and something from Whatsapp. Like Twitter, people can follow each other on the messenger. It has been built such that users cannot view each other’s stories except they both follow each other.
The instant messenger is off to a good start and can do even better with more upgrades and functionalities. However, keeping it simple in spite of the many functionalities is a balance to strive for subsequently.
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