If we said “Marco!” your response would likely be “Polo!” — and who could blame you? People around the world enjoy playing the call-and-response game, but did you know it’s also a video messaging app that you can use to keep in touch with your loved ones, even when you can’t be together in person?
Released in 2014 by Joya Communications, Marco Polo has been dubbed a “video walkie-talkie.” The app allows you to send short video messages to your friends and family and respond to them, and it works in a similar way to Snapchat. So instead of participating in long meetings like you do with Zoom or communicating on a social media platform that collects your data, you can enjoy the simple pleasure of sending quick selfie clips back and forth. You can only send videos through this application, though — not photos.
There are actually a lot of similarities between Marco Polo and Snapchat. Both sport visual and voice filters and give you the option to draw or add text to any of your videos. Where Marco Polo differs from other popular messaging apps, however, is that the messages — known as Polos — won’t disappear after they’re viewed. After all, there’s nothing worse than trying to make concrete plans via Snapchat and forgetting the contents of your last message. With Marco Polo, that’s not a problem.
You can, of course, choose to delete your less-than-flattering videos, but you can only remove the ones that you’ve created. Unless you or the other person removes videos, you can easily look back and rewatch any of the recent videos and chats you’ve sent or received. Older chats are archived, and if you want access to all of your previous videos and chats, you’ll have to subscribe to Marco Polo Premium for $10 a month. With a subscription to Premium, you’ll also get custom emoji, voice-only Polos, and many other handy features.
Another unique feature of this app is that it is not tied to any larger social network like Facebook or Google, making the whole experience much less noisy. You can also only add people you already have in your phone’s contact list, making it easier to stay safe online. No one has public access to your account or the ability to seek out strangers and send them videos.
There are also a variety of notifications you can get while using the app (which can be turned off in your device’s settings if they become too annoying), such as when someone is viewing your Polo, while they are recording one that is viewable, and even when their internet connection is spotty and causing a transmission delay. All videos are stored online, so they don’t take up space on your device. Just be aware that this means the app will eat up a pretty large amount of data if you are using it a lot, so make sure to use it sparingly or only when you’re connected to Wi-Fi.
That’s basically it! While Marco Polo isn’t revolutionary considering the other messaging apps out there, it’s a good alternative to most video and instant messaging apps and addresses a lot of common problems with its competitors. You can download the app for free from the App Store or Google Play.