In today’s time, it is uncertain if the microblogging platform Twitter will be a sustainable platform for nationalist Indians to voice their opinion and have a healthy discussion. Also, there is a need for an India-made platform to give a better user experience to the Indian community. With so much diversity in a packed nation like India, a US-based company cannot provide enough features to unify the Indian community. This is where Koo, the Made-in-India microblogging app, comes into the picture.
In March 2020, Koo became available for the Android platform. Founded by Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatk, Koo is now available for iOS and Web as well. Still, the latest features are available on Android and later gets introduced on other platforms. Deemed as the Indian alternative for Twitter, Koo has to gain momentum as Indian leaders, including Piyush Goyal and Government Agencies including MeiTy, Indian Posts and others, have either talked about or created a profile on the platform.
Koo was first recognized on a wider platform when it won the AatmaNirbhar App Innovation Challenge held by the Government of India in August 2020. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also talked about it during the Mann Ki Baat episode. The app has already clocked over a million downloads. The founders aim to target the internet users in India who are not well-versed with the potential of social media platforms.
Koo’s founder’s interview with OpIndia
Rahul Roushan discussed with Aprameya about Koo and tried to understand the future plans for the app. There are a lot of questions, doubts, suggestions and possibilities for Koo, which were talked about in over an hour long discussion.
The birth of Koo
When Aprameya and Mayank were brainstorming about the name for the app, they thought of different animals that can be used to represent communication. However, in the end, the bird suited the most. Aprameya said that just because one company uses a bird does not mean we must ditch it altogether.
The name Koo came from the bird Koyal. In India, this particular bird is often associated with happy sounds and memories. Koo also aims at providing a robust and relaxing environment for Indian users; thus, the name fits perfectly. The colour Yellow again is often termed as a happy colour that fits in the aim of the app. Co-founder Mayank designed the bird in the logo as, at that time, they did not have any designer in the team.
Indian languages are the USP for Koo
Unlike other social media applications, Koo is available in several Indian languages, including Hindi, Marathi, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Bengali, Gujarati, and of course, English. Aprameya said that they are planning to target not only the Indian users who are looking for an alternative to Twitter but also those who have not yet explored the power of microblogging.
Koo will add more languages in the coming months. The idea is to provide a platform to users where they can share and find topics based on the language and region. For example, if someone has a language set to Kannada, the user will see topics that concern Karnataka. If he wants to see the topics that are trending in the Hindi universe, all he needs to do is change the language to Hindi from the settings.
Currently, for any app, the trending topics show the popular topics based on location and what you regularly follow and global or country-based topics. On the other hand, in Koo, the trending topics are based on the language universe you are using.
The whole app functions in the language you have chosen, making it easier for non-English speakers to access the app easily. In the coming days, Koo will provide an option to change the language from the home screen for a seamless user experience.
Koo will get better with time
Currently, Koo is in an unsaid Beta version. The team is testing the features, introducing new features and factoring in suggestions given by the users. The mission is to build the app for India. For example, the developers at Koo are working on a very innovative feature that will allow you to post Koo in different languages in one go.
Suppose you have typed a Koo in English, but you also want it to send it in Hindi or Marathi. Koo will show you the translation, and if you see it error-free, you can go ahead and post it in multiple languages. As auto-translators are not perfect, there will be an option to edit the translated tweet as well. In this way, you will be able to post Koo in multiple communities in one go and reach out to a larger group. People from other communities will be able to see your profile in their language.
In most countries, such features are not required. But in India, people are often well-versed in at least three languages. Such a feature that allows you to post and read in multiple languages makes it easier to connect to your roots. Koo, in a way, will help in unifying India. Similar changes will keep getting introduced in Koo to make it a more feasible option for the Indian audience.
Policies are essential
As of now, there is a limited user base on the app. But with time, Koo will require its own policies to be in sync with the law of the land. Koo will soon have a team of experts to formulate a policy that will allow them to curb speeches that can cause self-harm or law and order issues. However, it will not become constrained and ‘headmaster-like’ similar to Twitter.
Koo believes in communicating with the government. As it is registered in India, the priority will be to create an environment where Indian laws are followed while providing open space for everyone to share their thoughts and opinions.
Getting the verified batch
There is an option to apply for a verified batch on Koo, which is open for all. However, it would be best if you were a well-known personality who is searched and talked about. Even if it is a negative press, Koo will consider verifying the account.
Is Koo leftist or fascist?
Koo’s official handle follows a left-leaning journalist, which is the main concern for the users with different political views. When Aprameya was asked about it during the discussion, he said that when Koo was being developed, several team members had the user credentials that may have to lead the misunderstanding. Koo believes in healthy discussion, and there are several leaders from different political parties already on the platform.
Koo is secure
The personal information users share on Koo is encrypted, and the servers are located in India. Though Koo is using AWS India for servers, they are looking for Indian alternatives. Currently, Koo is not monetizing the app; thus, there is no question of sharing the information with a third party. However, capital is essential when you want to compete with an international tech giant. Koo will always give preference to Indian investors before knocking on the door of foreign investors. In any case, the team at Koo will take the decisions and not the investors.
Koo is not only looking for capital but also will explore options to monetize the app. However, it is not going to be a one-way road like other apps. Koo will provide an option to opt-out from sharing your information. Koo aims to be transparent with its users and will provide all the options necessary to ensure privacy.
Koo is ready for the crowd
Every product has an identity, and Koo wants to be identified as the platform where everyone can share thoughts and opinions. Of course, more features will come in future that will expand its usage, but at this moment, Koo wants to concentrate on becoming the best Twitter alternative for Indian users. As the user base is increasing quickly, it is advisable to join the platform and secure the handle you want to choose as Koo does not have any option as of now to retrieve handles.
Though Koo is currently a team of ten, they are prepared for the masses. However, the company is also looking to expand its horizons and want to expand its team. Those interested in joining team Koo were requested to mail Aprameya Radhakrishna at [email protected]