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I'm interested about your opinions on the subject.

PRE-NOTE

I am not talking about using a chat SaaS (Sendbird, Pusher, etc...) BUT making use of existing, installed, chat apps.

1- IN-APP

PROs

  1. App engagement/retention
  2. Less cluttered UI (more dedicated to app use case)
  3. Custom functionalities catered to app use case
  4. Some users don't want to share their Messenger/WhatsApp ID (??)

CONs

  1. Dev time/cost
  2. Have to match user "chat expectations" (top notch UX) – Hard to match
  3. "Yet another chat app" to handle

2- THIRD-PARTY

PROs

  1. User is already used to it
  2. Top of the class user experience (most of the time, LINE, cough, cough...)
  3. User can choose what chat app to use
  4. User more likely to get/see the notifications – Especially on Android with custom vendor/user battery settings
  5. Can use third-party chat bot for onboarding / custom focused notifications (with "Actions")

CONs

  1. User leaves app
  2. Cannot build custom buttons/functionalities in chat
  3. "First message" might be lost (when user adds a new contact) – Some chat apps treat these "first messages" as almost SPAM (Messenger so called "requests")
  4. Cannot "bridge" users if they don't use the same chat app – Could actually bridge through a bot
  5. Some users don't use chat apps (???????????????????????)
  6. Cannot create in-app community chat group – Although could create them manually or through chat API if possible
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If you really need a chat in your app - make it. Most probably you don't need to make replacement for one of many different messengers used by user, but you need a tool which helps users to exchange objects specific for your app.

There is no garatnee that both users have the same messenger app installed. Most of users don't want add somebody unfamiliar to contacts or share their own data with them.

Having your own in-app chat you can connect users anonimously depending on desired communication subject. After starting communication users will be able to define their most appropriate way for further conversation.

You may implement very simple chat - almost nobody will expect specialized messenger functionality. But yes, this will cost some work for you.

  • You make a good point about adding someone unfamiliar to my contacts. Although in the spirit of my app, Users will connect in real life as a result of the chat conversation happening. That alleviate this concern in my opinion. The chat conversation will be used for 2 users to agree on a place, date & time. – eightyfive Mar 22 at 6:50
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    @eightyfive This is what I named as 'app object' - they may exchange with invitations which simplifies 'chat' functionality and makes it different from messenger. One user may send invitation to another user with place, datetime and short text comment. Recipient can accept, reject or edit invitation and send it back. This is simplified example of such 'chat'. However this has sense if they could further use this conversation inside your app, say for notification, booking this place or whatever. I mean 'app object' will be reused inside app. – Serg Mar 22 at 8:17
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I think it really depends on what your aim is: if you want to create a private community for your product, then an in-app chat is the best solution. If on the other hand you want users to share content from your product with their family and friends, I would go for the second option. Forget about CON n°5, actually messaging apps are among the most used even by older users https://www.messengerpeople.com/global-messenger-usage-statistics/

  • My main goal with the chat is to make 2 Users agree on a place, date & time. I don't see a problem if done outside of my app. Only down side is users not willing to share their <chat_app> ID(s). – eightyfive Mar 22 at 6:44

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