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The battle of messaging apps.

Actually, not much of a battle in Korea where Kakaotalk is the dominant app. Kakaotalk trumps all the other apps (LINE, Tik Tok, Whatsapp etc), mostly due to a first mover advantage (in my opinion). Look around in the subway train, where 7 out of 10 are typing furiously on their smartphones. And dare I say at around 4-5 will be using Kakaotalk? As many of you might have heard, Kakaotalk has become the ‘default’ communication tool among Koreans. Sucks to be a foreigner in Korean without constant access to 3G. I feel like I am in my own world.

But in other regions where neither is dominant, it is interesting to do a comparison of the services and how they might fare. Both are technically Korean apps, but LINE is technically produced by NAVER JAPAN, a subsidiary of NAVER – Korea’s most popular search engine. Curious as to why NHN Japan instead of NHN Korea. Here’s an interesting article.

LINE. That’s my choice. Although I admit that I have both apps – Kakaotalk to communicate with Korean friends; LINE almost exclusively for group chats with my best friends.

Both apps are in essence, very similar. Both tells you if the other party (or how many in a group chat) has read the message. But you won’t know who has read it. I still remember Tik Tok having the more creepy useful feature where you can see if the other party is typing a message at the moment. So it sucks to see the person typing … and then stopped. And starting to type.. and stop. I am actually kind of glad to see it missing in both apps.


But they differ in additional features. When it comes to LINE, the best part of it is of course, the emoticons. Or sticker cartoons as they are called. AWESOME. You can literally have a meaningful conversation just by sending stickers to and fro. I like how they do not restrict themselves to the plain emoticons (they have a wonderful set too) but go beyond that to create stickers that are actually useful and often conveying stuff that are common feelings / situations etc. Kakaotalk pales in comparison, although they have upgraded their emoticon set to include animated gifs, it feels like of strange cos of the border – would much prefer borderless stickers in LINE.


I love how LINE can also be accessed using the computer. Downloaded it for my macbook and was able to login quickly by scanning the QR code with my phone. No need for login details, although you can choose to do it that way. It lags sometimes but I am generally happy with it. Not so much my friends. I am known to be a spammer and being able to type quickly on the keyboard seems to motivate me to send loads of messages across like an MSN chat. Which freezes up my friends’ phones.


‘I am really sad that LINE does not offer short voice messages.’ I was about to say this when I realize that the newest update to LINE finally includes the much-appreciated feature!!! *punches air* One more reason for me to switch over to LINE completely.. if only there are more Korean LINE users……….


Another point for LINE! The camera is essentially a photo sticker machine and I love how you get everything – filters, borders, stamps, brushes, text input. EVERYTHING. It has all the fun of a neoprint machine and you get to save on money!! 7000won.  Loving the the Negative filter and all the brushes!!! *goes crazy* Although I was initially disappointed that it is a separate app instead of a feature in LINE, I think it is a good idea. It works seamlessly with LINE – pressing the icon in LINE brings you to the LINE CAMERA app and after you are done with it, click ‘send to LINE’ and you are brought back to the convo. I like how you can directly send the photos to a wide variety of social media services. AWESOME.

I’m sorry I have no artistic talent…

And this is what I did entirely using the app. Do not have to resort to Paint to edit some of the photos!

How do you like our convo?

Location vs Phone Contact 

LINE allows you to share your location via a button and Kakaotalk allows you to share phone contacts via a button too. Both are good features and I wish they are both available in a single app.


No matter how good an app is, there is no point if there are no users. Especially if it is a social app. The biggest disadvantage of LINE is that there are NO KOREAN USERS. Only a few of my Korean friends have LINE but none of them actively uses the app. D:

Now.. if only they offer a drawing feature for LINE, my life will be complete. #justsaying.

p.s. Did I convince you sufficiently to switch to LINE? ^^