Just about everyone has WhatsApp on their cell phone, but instant messengers have been around for much longer. In the mid-90s, the Israeli startup Mirabilis launched a messenger called ICQ and enjoyed great success. The recipe for success was already at that time a mix of free software and simple handling, because one did not need more than an Internet connection for ICQ. By the way, ICQ stands for "I seek you", which means "I’m looking for you".
Above all, the real-time chat was a killer feature that didn’t exist at the time with other communication options such as e-mail. Remember: In the mid-90s there were no smartphones yet. Modern communication on the cell phone was limited to sending SMS messages. In 1998 ICQ was bought by the internet giant AOL for more than 400 million US dollars, in the year 2000 ICQ had 100 million users. So 20 years ago ICQ was the WhatsApp of its time.
The descent of ICQ
But ICQ could not hold its ground at the top and slept through the age of smartphones. Social networks also affected the chat service and so more and more users said goodbye to ICQ. Today ICQ belongs to the Russian company Mail.ru.
ICQ New: Reboot of the instant messenger in 2020
In April 2020 the messenger service ventures a new beginning under the name ICQ New. The can really be seen at first glance: So there is the messenger ICQ New for Android and iOS, but also for Windows, macOS, Linux and in a web version for the browser. In addition, it is still free of charge.
Old ICQ hares can even still use the existing ICQ numbers, younger audience registers as usual with modern messengers via phone number. Then, if desired, the app scans the contacts on the phone and already shows who is using ICQ New. Then just select contact and chat.
The basic equipment fits: You can write texts, send pictures and videos, also sending other files is possible. As well as sending the current location, voice messages and contacts. You can also create polls.
Calls and video chats
Like WhatsApp, ICQ New also integrates video chats. For this you must simply in the area "Calls" tap on the camera and select the contacts you want to call. Who does not release the camera, can still be present via audio connection. Basically, you can use it to bring separate families together or even hold meetings. A function to mute the microphone is also available.
Huge groups possible
The devil with WhatsApp is groups, everyone is probably trapped in these black holes by now. WhatsApp stops at 256 participants per group, which is more than enough. ICQ New is a real hunky-dory and allows up to 25 users.000 participants per group.
In this way, they want to open up new user groups, such as business users who handle events via ICQ. In addition, there are channels on certain topics that you can subscribe to, such as "Best Pictures on the Web" or "New York Fashion.
Special features of ICQ New
At first glance, ICQ New looks quite similar to all other messengers and offers similar features. But there are still a few special features: Such as an audio-to-text feature that converts voice messages to text.
The voice recognition doesn’t work perfectly, but those who hate voice messages can at least quickly find out what their friends’ messages are about.
Quick replies are also practical. ICQ analyzes the text and makes suggestions for quick answers or suitable stickers. Again, this doesn’t always fit, but is occasionally useful.
Poor security and data protection
On another info page it says that at least video calls are encrypted. The support reports about transport encryption via TLS. So it can be assumed that there is no end-to-end encryption, as a messenger today should absolutely have it. When it comes to sharing content with third parties, ICQ New is not stingy either, which fits into the poor privacy picture.
Conclusion: Certainly not a WhatsApp killer
ICQ New actually has all the functions you need for an instant messenger. Whether it’s simple texting, group functions or video chats, you’ll find everything you need here. Photos, locations and surveys are also possible. With a few goodies like audio-to-text, ICQ even stands out from WhatsApp.
With security and privacy comes but then the hammer, the communication is not encrypted, that is now given with WhatsApp. The bottom line is that the hood is quite nice, but there are flaws in the fine print. There is also a killer feature missing that WhatsApp doesn’t have. Therefore ICQ New will probably remain in the niche.