US Markets Loading… H

Here’s how to use Marco Polo, the video messaging app that could replace Snapchat one day

Updated 2017-09-11T14:50:00Z Reuters/Lucy Nicholson If you’ve ever wanted to recapture the magic of playing with walkie talkies as a kid, there’s an app designed to do just that — 2017-style. Marco Polo bills itself as the «video walkie talkie,» a video chat app that lets you send quick messages back and forth with your friends. Much like Snapchat, Marco Polo traffics in messages that are only a few seconds long. Unlike Snapchat, however, the app saves your videos so you can have a running conversation with your friend or a group of friends. Marco Polo was created by a company called Joya Communications, which says on its website that its mission is «to help people feel close no matter the distance, enabling people to remain connected in convenient and meaningful ways.» The app has been around for more than a year, but is starting to catch on: It’s No. 3 on the App Store’s top free apps chart right now. The app has a 4.5 rating on the Google Play Store (out of 5) and more than 133,000 reviews, and a 4.5 out of 5 on the App Store. And a quick Twitter search pulls up hundreds of tweets about the app. Some users complain about Marco Polo spamming their contacts — the app does ask to access your contacts during the set up, but it apparently has texted some users contacts in the past — but most tweets look a lot like this one:

—LoveYourLife (@MemeLovesLife) December 23, 2016

Most users also mention using the app to communicate with their families — which means Marco Polo isn’t just for teens. Here’s how to use it:

After a quick setup (entering your phone number, adding a picture of yourself, etc.), the app takes you to your home screen. Here, you’ll see tiles for each of your friends on the app. I had 10 friends on the app — including two of my sisters! — and was repeatedly given the option to invite others to join.

Marco Polo/Business Insider

To get started, you can click on a friend’s tile. It’ll take you to this screen, where you can swipe between several different filters before recording your video. To record, you just hit the «Start» button.

Marco Polo/Business Insider I chose the «America» filter, meant to look like Shepard Fairey’s «Hope» poster, in honor of President Obama’s final days in office.

I recorded a video message for my sister — called a Polo — which was just a few seconds long. Marco Polo is intended for quick back-and-forth messages, not long-winded voicemails.

Marco Polo/Business Insider

Like Snapchat or Instagram Stories, you can draw on and add text to your video. And by pressing on the screen with two fingers while recording, you can animate your illustrations (just try not to draw on your face like I did).

Marco Polo/Business Insider

Marco Polo has six filters right now, including one that makes me look kind of like a Wall Street Journal reporter, and one that seemingly eliminates half my features altogether while simultaneously giving me a dewy glow.

Marco Polo/Business Insider Marco Polo’s filters aren’t very sophisticated yet and don’t perform well in well-lit areas. Most of them blew out all my features except my eyes.

The app also encourages you to «text when you can’t talk.» This feature looks nearly identical to Snapchat except for one main difference: You can only send Polos as videos, not still photos.

Marco Polo/Business Insider Admittedly, the texting feature seems like somewhat of a useless feature, unless you plan to use Marco Polo as your main communication app.

The app alerts you when someone is viewing your Polo.

Marco Polo/Business Insider

Marco Polo has climbed to No. 3 on the App Store’s top free apps chart. It’s free to download, but be careful: According to some users’ posts online, the app eats up a lot of data.

Marco Polo Marco Polo is available for both Android and iOS. Read next Something is loading. Thanks for signing up! Access your favorite topics in a personalized feed while you’re on the go. Features
Marco Polo
Apps More… US Markets Loading… H

How to use Marco Polo, the ‘video walkie talkie’ app that combines features from Zoom and Snapchat

Marco Polo Marco Polo apt. Marco Polo

  • Communication tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams have seen downloads spike as people are encouraged to stay in their homes due to the coronavirus.
  • Older video chatting app Marco Polo has also seen growth in users.
  • The coronavirus outbreak has infected more than 1.9 million people around the world, with about 30% of cases in the US.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

With people forced to work and learn from home, apps like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Slack have seen spikes in downloads as they become essential parts of daily life. After work, you might want a way to talk to friends and family without launching yet another Zoom call. Marco Polo was launched in 2016 by Vlada and Michael Bortnik under Joya Communications, and the company is entirely remote. It first billed itself as a «video walkie talkie» that let people send messages back and forth with friends. A few years ago, some users speculated that the app could one day replace Snapchat. While that hasn’t happened, Marco Polo has found a second life as people seek ways to connect while stuck at home due to COVID-19, the coronavirus disease. According to Venture Beat, Marco Polo went from 12,674 downloads on February 15 to 73,395 downloads about a month later on March 25. Even celebrities like Ice T are using it: he tweeted «I was on it way before Quarantine. But NOW it does the job.» Here’s how to use Marco Polo.

Like any app, the first step is to download it in the App Store or Google Play Store.

Marco Polo apt. Marco Polo

You’ll be asked to make an account with a name and profile picture.

Marco Polo apt. Marco Polo

When she accepted my invitation and joined, I got a push notification telling me she was talking to me in the app.

Marco Polo apt. Marco Polo

One thing that separates Marco Polo from other video chatting apps is the option to send messages when both people aren’t online.

Marco Polo apt. Marco Polo

Send and record a message, like a Snapchat, but then they are saved at the bottom of the screen so they can be revisited like a text conversation.

Marco Polo apt. Marco Polo

Marco Polo has some features like filters and the ability to draw on the screen, but they aren’t as advanced or varied as current filters on Snapchat or Instagram.

Marco Polo apt. Marco Polo

The older style of filters and frequent crashes (this one happened as I was working on this story) might explain why Marco Polo has fallen behind Snapchat, but as people continue to stay inside because of coronavirus Marco Polo might be back in the game.

Marco Polo apt. Marco Polo Read next Something is loading. Thanks for signing up! Access your favorite topics in a personalized feed while you’re on the go. Features
Marco Polo More…

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *