The iPad-optimized incarnation of the app sports many of the same features as its smaller-screened cousin, including the ability to make calls, send messages, and have video chats. But there are key omissions — you can’t use Line’s mobile-payment service Line Pay, search for friends by phone number, buy themes or stickers, or place phone calls to standard telephone numbers (landline or mobile).
For the uninitiated, Line is a Japan-based company that rose to prominence back in 2011 for its WhatsApp-style messaging app. Today it claims north of 200 million monthly active users (MAU) in more than 200 countries, though the majority of these users exist across a few countries in Asia. The company has branched out into other services too, including mobile payments, taxis, and other standalone apps.
Line actually launched a separate iPad incarnation last October, and it appears this will remain in the App Store going forward. This may cause some confusion among those searching for the tablet version of the app, particularly as the two don’t do the same things — there are some key restrictions on the standalone version: it can only be used if you’ve already set up an account on the iPhone version, and voice and video calls aren’t allowed. In effect, it is a stripped down, minimalist app for those simply looking to send messages to friends while slouching on the sofa.
It’s difficult to see what appeal the old iPad app holds now that there is a more complete, universal version available. Indeed, you can even create a new account straight from your iPad, something that’s not possible on the existing tablet version.
With Facebook-owned WhatsApp recently ditching its subscription fee to increase uptake around the world, apps such as Line could eventually succumb to the omnipresence of Facebook and its far-reaching claws. But Line is immensely popular in a few big markets, such as Japan. And with near fully featured cross-platform apps covering phones, PCs, and tablets, it still holds some significant differentiators over its big-name counterparts in the West.