Belfast Telegraph

The messaging app that could save your life with just a click

But most don't have quite such lofty aims

By Katie Wright

Whether you like sharing funny dog-ears selfies on Snapchat, emoji-laden missives on Whatsapp or pictures of Pusheen the cat on Facebook Messenger (yep, that's her name), chances are you've got a favourite messaging app or two.

Each platform has its own playful features, but in Egypt, a chat app could save your life.

I Protect has been created by the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF) in response to the worrying number of human rights activists and journalists disappearing at the hands of the country's security forces.

The clever application, which is disguised as a calculator, lets someone who is being detained instantly send three text messages to pre-programmed contacts, just by holding down one key, and emails the location of their arrest to the ECRF.

The first 24 hours are crucial in cases of disappearance, so it's hoped the app will help locate victims before they are taken to larger detention centres where they're harder to find.

The majority of emerging messenger apps don't have quite such lofty aims, however.

Launched earlier this summer, Rawr is centred on avatars that users create to look like themselves.

Controlled by hashtags in the chat window, these little animated people can dance, hug, kiss and, well, kick each other in the crotch.

Obviously, it's aimed at millennials (essentially, those who are aged under-35), while Facebook's latest standalone social app, created by a 19-year-old, is designed specifically for those of high school age.

Lifestage, which is only available in the US thus far, asks users to create photos and videos framed with colourful cartoons to describe their likes and dislikes.

It all looks very fun, but experts have already expressed concern that all content is posted publicly and there is no way of verifying that a member actually goes to the school they claim.

Here in the UK, Palringo combines chat and games, with its 40 million active users joining group chats (some have thousands of members) and playing games with people all over the world.

The London-based firm makes money from in-game spending and was last year named as one of the country's fastest growing tech companies.

Palringo has still got a way to go before it reaches the heady heights of Whatsapp's one billion-strong user-base and competition remains fierce.

But in this rapidly changing arena, it's likely the next big chat hit hasn't even been invented yet.

Belfast Telegraph