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.
Marco Polo isn’t reliant on larger social networks like Facebook or Google, a unique feature that streamlines the whole experience quite a bit. You can only add people you already have in your phone’s contact list, so it’s easier to stay safe online. Your account isn’t publicly displayed, and no one can seek out strangers to send videos to.
The app provides various notifications, such as when someone is viewing your Polo, when they’re recording a viewable one, and even when their internet connection is spotty and causing a transmission delay. If the notifications start to get on your nerves, you can always turn them off in your device’s settings. The app stores all videos online, so they don’t take up space on your device, which means that the app can eat up a pretty large amount of data if you use it without Wi-Fi. Making sure to use it sparingly or only when you have a Wi-Fi connection will keep this from becoming an issue.
That’s all there is to it – Marco Polo isn’t revolutionary compared to other messaging apps out there. Still, it’s a decent alternative to most video and instant messaging apps and addresses many of its competitors’ issues. The app is available for free from the App Store or Google Play.