Houseparty: Group video chat app connects friends

January 25, 2017 — by Nidhi Jain

“Get it. Quickly! Hurry up!”

Buzzing nonstop, my phone lit up on the three-day Martin Luther King Day weekend with multiple aggressive “suggestions” from senior Neeka Nikfar to download an iPhone app then unknown to me: Houseparty.

Attempting to sound as if I were genuinely considering downloading the application (even though I honestly had no plans on doing so), I hesitantly asked Neeka a few of the obligatory questions regarding the application to make it seem as if I were interested.

Little did I know that just two days later, I would be spending 90 percent of my free time on it.

Initially, her reasoning to download the application was unconvincing. It was an “application where you video chat with a bunch of people,” and I could not understand why I would choose this application over Facebook group video call, Google Hangouts or any social media group chat feature.

However, considering the fact that I was spending the majority of my time binging on Netflix shows, I decided to add a little spice to my schedule by downloading Houseparty.

Upon viewing the home screen of the app after creating an account, I was, as expected, bored and unsure what to do.

The application’s ability to entertain relies on the user being virtually connected to multiple individuals by being “friends” with them. After “adding” others, the user is able to view when these friends are active and “join” video calls with them.

At this point, my only friend on the application was Neeka, and “joining” a video chat with only one person resembled Facetime — my go-to video chat application — far too closely. I exited the chat in disappointment, having wasted precious time that could have been spent watching “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Two days later, the non-stop buzzing returned.

Except this time, it wasn’t Neeka. It was the Houseparty application notifying me that dozens of my friends had requested to “add” me. Somehow, news had spread about this seemingly pointless application, and my friends apparently were enjoying it.

Giving the application another try, I logged onto Houseparty and was surprisingly excited to see three of my friends online. As listed on the home screen, these three friends were in a group video chat, and I had the ability to “join” this chat simply by clicking a single button.

Soon after, more friends began joining the video chat that I was part of. I was in a group video chat with eight close friends at the same time and had never experienced such a large chat with such minimal lagging.

Swiping down, I was able to view four different video chats that were going on as well as the participants of each one. Being the obnoxious person I am, I humored myself in joining several of the separate chats where I clearly did not belong, until I sadly began to notice that users were “locking the room.” Through this feature, random friends (like me) are not able to join the video chat.

Five hours later, my battery had depleted by over 90 percent, and I forced myself to exit the application — only to redo the entire process the next day. Distracting me even further,  Houseparty would notify me any time my friends logged on to the app.

Now, only a week later, the hype of the application has died down, but my friends and I occasionally still find ourselves video chatting in groups for a few hours.

The application is, of course, no substitute for hanging out with friends in person, but for lazy second-semester seniors like me who are often too sluggish to get out of bed, it’s perfect.

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