Review: How Celly makes you look less retarded.

Ever get the feeling mobile IM (e.g. WhatsApp) is a real PITA at times? Everyone’s hunched over their smart phones, furiously thumbing away like a bunch of morons even when they have a computer in front of them. Fact: an integrated chat experience would really be helping in salving our collective dignity, if not convenience.

So I had a go at this new mobile app named Celly, which looks to be a snappy instant messaging replacement for WhatsApp – if your friends are inclined to make the jump. I was bored enough to participate in a round of tests with NZ, so read on to find out what we thought of it.

The good:

  • One big draw is definitely the interface; the cute cartoon avatars, attractive UI and easy-to-read font makes you want to jump on board right away.
  • Another positive is the integrated desktop/mobile app approach Celly takes. You can chat on your mobile and hop onto your desktop to continue the chat seamlessly without any loss in messages, the message history looks to be stored on their infrastructure. Privacy-conscious freaks, go wild here.
  • Curated chats are essentially moderated chatrooms. You have to approve the messages before they go up. Good if you are hosting an environment that demands moderation.
  • Interesting features: encouraged use of hashtags on messages (akin to Twitter), the ability to conduct polls in a cell (or group), and message scheduling. Wouldn’t have expected to find these features in IM.

Partial screencap of the Celly desktop experience.

From a usability perspective though, several kinks came up:

  • Lack of multimedia support: there goes image and video sharing.
  • More chats, more woes: the mobile app’s navigation utilises horizontal tabs, which could be slightly unwieldy if you have twenty tabs.
  • Cannot use emojis: no elaboration required.
  • Email notifications are enabled by default: there is no easy way to disable this on the mobile app. None that I could see at least. There is an “email off” option on the desktop screen.
  • Cannot change message timestamp’s time zone: all messages were stamped in US time zones, you cannot select international time zones. Celly is focusing on the US market for now, because there is an SMS invite feature that only caters to the US too.

Screen capture of the Celly Android mobile app UI.

To call it a social networking tool is stretching the definition some. I would call it an instant messaging client, period. That being said, it could be really good with a richer feature set.

The main perk it holds for me is its ability to offer the use of a desktop browser for chat. Being able to type in peace on the laptop makes me look less like an idiot who hammers incessantly on his smart phone because all his friends are chatting on a mobile app. Merging the lines over here, a huge plus.

Check out Celly on the official website, Google Play store and iTunes.

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