When I was in high school pagers were just starting to be a thing. Cell phones hadn’t made it to the mass market yet, and we all had to rely on pagers and landlines to communicate with friends. I was fortunate enough to have my OWN phone line in my house because my Dad worked in the tech industry and needed to dial into work from time to time. With the pagers, we had to come up with elaborate codes to use to tell our friends specific things.
Next came texting. This really didn’t start getting popular until well after I was married. Before the full-featured phones of today, we had to text using T9, which means pressing the number keys several times to get just the right letter. It was a pain.
Texting has now graduated, and there are also several other ways to communicate with each other. There is messaging features on just about every social network, and of course, the regular SMS messages through your phone carrier work as well.
I have now found my favorite method of communication though, at least until the next thing comes along. The app is called Marco Polo. It is promoted as a video walkie-talkie, but I feel like that description doesn’t do it justice. I never caught on to Snapchat. It’s complicated to use, and I never understood it. This app is exactly the perfect bridge between dynamic messages and simple texts.
Why It’s Awesome
Instagram or Facebook Live videos are great, but they are more for a one-to-many conversation. When I want to broadcast something to everyone I know, I’ll use that platform. When I just need to say something to a few individuals or just one person, I would previously just send a text. With Marco Polo, I can shoot a quick video to an individual or to a core group of friends.
On Your Own Time
Say I’m at the store and I’m trying to pick between two different colors of flooring or paint. I can load up Marco Polo and record a video of exactly what I’m looking at to get opinions. While my friends or family can watch the video live, they don’t have to if they have something going on. They can load up Marco Polo at any time and playback the video from earlier. In this sense, it acts more like a text message, when I can view and respond on my own time, and doesn’t require immediate interaction.
No Time Limits
The video also allows you to tell elaborate stories or vent about something since there is no time limit to your video. You can also go back and view videos from days ago to remember something your friend told you recently, the videos do not disappear like some other social apps. It is sooo much easier to vent through a video than it is over a text.
I love that you need to have someone’s phone number in your address book in order to find them on Marco Polo. It makes it a little more private than some other applications, which is one reason I also love it for my kids. I have a few groups inside Marco Polo that are made up of different groups of friends. My one group of friends is very active on Marco Polo. It reminds me of when your mom would spend all day talking on the phone to her friends. My friends and I chat all throughout the day about our struggles, things that are happening in our lives, and even coordinate babysitting. It has really made us a closer group of friends because we can now interact on a regular basis.
The application has filters so you can use a robot voice or a cartoon face. You can also type or write on the screen, for those days when you are sitting in the orthodontist’s office. It does not have the cutesy filters like Instagram or Snapchat that can turn you into a cute kitty cat. I’m ok with that though. I don’t need to be a kitty cat when talking to my friends about my kid’s Halloween costume.
What Needs Improvement
The only thing it’s really lacking right now is the ability to share photos or links through the app. If it had that ability, it would be dang near perfect. For now, my friends and I have to use Group Me to share links and photos.
The app also has the ability to view the messages in double time. Sometimes I wish there would be a feature to skip to the end of the video. My friends and I can get a bit wordy. It would be nice to tell them, “hey I’m going to vent, you can skip to the end if you need to.”
Other than those two complaints, I really adore this application. It has changed the way I communicate with my friends and family. So much so, that now when I have to write a text I often find myself thinking… I wish this person was on Marco Polo.