Say Namaste, the video conferencing app that made headlines weeks ago as the alleged Indian version of popular video conferencing app Zoom, now has smartphone apps for both Android and iOS. Made by Indian startup Inscripts, Say Namaste was a baritone video conferencing service when News18 first profiled the app, and a conversation with its founder, Anuj Garg, had mentioned that his team is working on two key areas – making the app more secure, and introducing its mobile apps for more people to use. While it succeeded in tapping into the ‘vocal for local’, ‘aatmanirbhar’ and anti-Chinese services narratives, we had found the app lacking in overall refinement. Now, months later and with its mobile apps now live, the refinement level still appears to have some way to go.
In News18’s brief usage of Say Namaste’s Android app, there are a number of things that came to the forefront. While Say Namaste initially had a barebone interface to begin with, Garg vouched that the over-simplified interface was an intentional design play. “One of my primary testing audiences for Say Namaste was my mother, and that is the level of simplicity that I plan to establish through the app,” Garg told News18. However, a look at Say Namaste’s Android app somewhat suggests that it has been rather hastily ported from its web version to fit the smartphone screen.
As a result, the over-simplified interface shows a lack of refinement in aspects such as edges, fonts, options, tabs and all other aspects involved. It is this that pegs Say Namaste behind other Indian video conferencing services such as EnableX Meeting, VacYa Meet and Troop Messenger. To be clear, each of the latter three have their own issues, but upon first impression, looks far more professional than what Say Namaste looks like right now. Design may seem like a secondary element to many, but bad UX design can wholly define whether an app would be successful, or otherwise.
Going beyond the lacklustre UX design, the second thing that immediately caught our eyes was the pixelated camera resolution that Say Namaste shows on its app. This is clearly an app issue, since no smartphone in today’s world offers significantly pixelated video feeds. This further underlines the amount of work that Say Namaste has to do, in order to reach its target of being a well refined, ‘made in India’ alternative to Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Skype and other international offerings.
What compounds this factor is that neither of the three above-mentioned Indian video conferencing alternatives offer a pixelated camera, and that is the one factor that can entirely ruin the experience of a video conferencing app.
In the brief tenure of our usage, the Say Namaste app crashed multiple times. The first app crash occurred just as we attempted our first video call on Say Namaste, and the second crash happened as we attempted to share a file via the chat interface.
However, there are a few encouraging elements in the app as well. To begin with, the simplistic interface may work for many, as it does not have a login screen if all you need to do is simply attend a meeting. That said, this can also be a privacy scare, which demands to be underlined on a standalone basis. The way the video call and the chat interface is separated can also seem quite intuitive, and as a straightforward mobile application that only offers a basic video calling interface, Say Namaste does so very well.
So, should you use it?
From what we believe, Say Namaste has the potential to improve significantly over time, if the design of the interface and the performance issues are ironed out. Say Namaste is one of the many apps vying for a slice of the ‘made in India’ discourse, and its early move in the Indian video conferencing space means that it is a recognised name as well. Whether it succeeds or not will completely depend on how the app is improved in due time.