HipChat has done a whole lot of overhauling when it comes to its desktop and mobile clients over the past year, and now the native Mac app, which was released as a beta on February 14, is getting its full 2.0 launch today. Alongside that, HipChat is also launching version 2.0 for iOS, another native overhaul, and both show ample evidence of the progress the group chat and collaboration app has made since its acquisition by Atlassian last year.
HipChat co-founder Pete Curley told me all about the changes made to both apps, which include a lot of behind-the-scenes improvements focusing on stability and performance, as well as totally new user interfaces that offer things like vertical tab navigation on the Mac for active chats, Notification Center support and more. The HipChat for iOS revamp adds quick switching between open rooms via a lefthand sidebar; file, link and chat history plus search; new swipe gestures like those you’ll find in system apps in iOS 7; and much more convenient photo sharing.
The update should also drastically improve performance, and will be especially welcome for users of HipChat on iPads, according to Curley. Those who’ve used the previous versions of HipChat for iOS are definitely in for a pleasant surprise. And for Android users, the update that arrived mid-month in April is still a huge improvement, though Curley says now the HipChat mobile team is working on bringing the improvements from this iOS release back to that platform, too.
“I’m extremely surprised at the number of enterprise people using chat on their tablets these day,” Curley said, talking about the need for an iPad-specific overhaul in particular. And the rest of the decisions made were also geared around trends that are changing in terms of mobile app usage. Interfaces on the new app are much better tailored to control systems that have gotten more common. Design language for apps has changed considerably since the advent of iOS, and the new apps feel much more at home as a result. And as for going native on the desktop, it was a case of necessity to suit the changing needs of its customers.
“From the business side of things, Air was really good at getting us, from a three-person team, a product out the door that was running on every operating system, which is crazy to think that we had one guy program that and had 10s of thousands of paid users on that,” Curley said. “The product was able to be used by teams much larger than we’d anticipated, like Netflix, which has switched almost entirely to it, Air wasn’t designed for that and started leaving a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths.”
HipChat also recently decided to open up a free trial tier for teams of up to five users, and I asked Curley about the progress of that project. New sign-ups have tripled, he says, and there are now 2,500 teams using that free service level, all of which are opportunities for paid conversions down the road if they grow beyond their current size. Curley said that while they offered a free tier in the past and got rid of it because people seemingly didn’t use it all that much, this time around the offer is driving plenty of new business, which may be a factor of HipChat’s intervening maturation as a platform.