The Line app was developed in Japan as a response to the March 2011 earthquake.
Three months later, the app was released for public use and has ratcheted up a whopping 400 million users worldwide in more than 230 countries; the rest, as they say, is history.
Some of the features that the Line app boasts are a messaging function, high quality voice calls, location information, photo sharing, Emojis and stickers, and most recently a hidden chat function.
Once Line is installed in your device, the app will automatically register you. The app is then designed to identify your location.
Line, just like WhatsApp, offers users photo sharing abilities, along with other forms of multimedia files, such as video and voice files. Photos taken and videos recorded may be edited to add various kinds of background music and then sent instantly.
There are several ways of inviting friends and family to Line. There are the traditional ways of searching for friends and sending invites, sharing QR codes and more modern ways of shaking phones close to each other or tapping phones.
Stickers and Emojis
The feature that has created the most buzz in the online community is the ability for users to use animated emojis and stickers in their messages. These are commonly cartoon or comic baby animals of a playful nature. The cuteness of this app cannot be over-emphasized.
These stickers are one of the ways in which the app makes money, as users have the option of purchasing additional characters.
The Hidden Chat Function
This exciting feature launched mid-2014 and offers added privacy and convenience for users of Line. Hidden Chats provide users the ability to communicate with family and friends by sending messages for a scheduled amount of time before being automatically deleted. The timing of such messages can be anything from 2 seconds up to 1 week.
The biggest letdown for many users of Line is that the app is a single-device only app. Therefore, if a user has more than one mobile device and would want to have the app on each device, each device would have its own account. Unless the device is a PC, then the app allows for only one other electronic device with the same account.
These features place Line at the front of the pack in terms of its interface, as WhatsApp is yet to offer users voice calling functionality, while Viber is notorious for its instability and crashing.
In terms of market share, Line is still a long way from WhatsApp. The 400 million user-count of the Line app includes users who downloaded the app, but are yet to use it, plus users who have downloaded the app on a number of their electronic devices. WhatsApp, on the other hand, boasts some 465 million users both registered and active. However, time will tell whether Line will grow to become a force to reckon with.