HiPal is a social networking app developed by VPings Inc. in 2018. The intention of the app is to function like a walkie-talkie, operating in the same way a traditional walkie-talkie would but in a digital capacity.  The walkie-talkie function has unlimited range and is capable of hosting large group calls. HiPal users can share images, comments, direct messages, add each other as friends, as well as play online games together.  HiPal has a modest following on TikTok, where users like to post conversations they had on the app. HiPal is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

The minimum age restriction for HiPal users is 12, however it does not appear to have any particular age verification methods.

Though the minimum age suggested by HiPal is 12 years old, users 12 and under can still use the app. Users in this age range can access core features of HiPal, such as the walkie-talkie. Broader online features, such as the ‘Explore’ function, are limited to only showing contacts added by the user. Users registered as being 12+ have full access to online features in HiPal.

HiPal is rated 12+ (Teens) on both the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Find out more about age ratings in our ‘A parent and carer’s guide to age ratings of apps and games’.

HiPal is used as a walkie-talkie for real-life events, such as when playing video games with friends, or as a direct chatting channel. Many users also use the ‘Explore’ function of HiPal to share pictures of their life, Tiktok videos they like or advertise their other social media profiles. The ‘Public square’ feature of HiPal allows users over the age of 12 to find and make new friends online to chat with.

  • HiPal maintains 12 multi-player games that users can play online with strangers or with other contacts. These games are:

    • Bumper Blaster
    • Ludo
    • UMO
    • Knife Challenge
    • Dominoes
    • Hello Friend
    • Texas Holdem
    • Deminers
    • Minesweeper
    • Werewolf
    • Reversi
    • Gobang
  • A ‘BOOM’ message is a text-based message. If the notification settings allow, a BOOM message notification will display even if the user is not using HiPal at the time they receive the message.

  • Bubbles are how chat notifications from HiPal appear on a user’s device. These can be customised to the user’s liking.

  • ‘Explore’ allows users to view, comment and like images and videos that other users have posted on HiPal.

  • ‘For You’ refers to a version of ‘Explore’ which has been curated by an algorithm based on the type of content the platform thinks a user will like. This is based on the user’s previous interactions with HiPal.

  • Likes are favourable reactions to a post that the user has made.

  • This shows all online users over the age of 12 on HiPal. Users can message and view the profiles of other users in the ‘Public square’.

As with other social media chatting apps, the content on the platform is user generated, so it may contain mature or inappropriate language or content in the form of text, images or video. Users of HiPal have reported being exposed to inappropriate images and videos through the ‘Explore’ function, as well as being sent inappropriate content through direct messages (DMs). Remind your child to speak to you if they encounter any content on the platform that they find upsetting or confusing. By restricting who your child can access on the platform, your child is less likely to experience language or behaviour that is not suitable for their age.  Check that your child has set up their account to reflect their real age, to benefit from age-related restrictions that have been put in place by the platform.

Chat messages on HiPal disappear when a user logs out. This presents a risk as users could feel disinhibited or inclined to share content which they assume cannot be viewed again. Since there is no chat history, there is likely to be no permanent record of what the sender may have said or sent via the app, unless a user has taken a screen shot of the chat content. This could apply to a range of situations, including the sharing of nude images, racist or hateful comments or engaging in bullying and harassment.  Remind your child to think carefully about the content they choose to share.

Users should also be aware that HiPal shows adverts when playing multi-player games. As there is no way of controlling the types of adverts your child could be exposed to, remind your to talk to you if they experience adverts which are not suitable for their age.

Multi-player games on HiPal are a mix of board and party games, such as Ludo and Uno (referred to as Umo in the app). While the content of these games is not particularly violent, users must connect with other online users to play. This presents a risk as other users could use inappropriate or mature language, either through messages or the walkie talkie function. Users 12 and under can only play these games with contacts they have added.

Users over the age of 12 have access to all other users on the platform. Whilst many young people like the idea of making new online friends, they should be mindful that not all users on the platform have good intentions. As there are no rigorous age verification methods on the app, users under 12 could easily access the 12+ version of the platform and equally, older users could attempt to pose as children. It is very challenging to know if the person they are talking with on the app is who they claim to be and as chat messages on HiPal disappear when a user logs out, there is no record of who your child is interacting with or how. This could facilitate behaviour such as grooming, bullying or sexual harassment, as the chat logs disappears leaving no visual record of what has happened and therefore making it difficult to trace. It is important that children and young people think carefully about the people they choose to connect with and consider using the app only to engage with known friends. Speak to your child about the risks of connecting with strangers and explain the importance of not sharing any personal or identifiable information within chats. Remind users to tell you if they have been asked more personal questions or to chat privately using a different app. Changing the privacy settings to sharing only with friends is recommended.

On HiPal, chat logs disappear when a user logs out. A lack of chat history could impact on the ability of the police or other relevant authorities to investigate issues of concern that may have occurred via the app. It is possible for a user to screen grab a conversation, but it could be difficult for someone who is being harassed or abused to think to do this in the moment. Encourage your child to tell you if they are engaged in a chat that makes them uncomfortable and where possible, take a screenshot. Remind your child to think carefully about the content they choose to share on the app. It is important to explain to your child that all content can be screenshotted, saved and widely shared. They always need to consider the content they create and share by really thinking about whether they would be happy for everyone they know to see it. 

As with many other messaging apps, it has been designed to keep users engaged and on the platform for extended periods of time. It can be difficult for children to resist the notifications encouraging them to respond and engage. Encourage your child to take a break by changing the notification settings to reduce the number of notifications they receive.

HiPal is a free app, which means it generates revenue from advertising. The developer makes money from selling advert space within the platform. Adverts appear in HiPal but are not specifically targeted to the users. Instead, the majority of adverts tend to focus on ‘pay to play’ or dating apps, which will be inappropriate for HiPal users under 18. Users are not able to disable the advertising function, so remind your child to speak to you if they have seen an advert that they find upsetting or confusing.

  • Users aged 12 and over can set their account to ‘Offline’ which will disable online messages from strangers via the ‘Public Square’. Users aged 12 and under are unable to receive direct messages from strangers by default.

    To set an account to ‘Offline’:

    • Go to your profile by selecting your icon on the top right corner.
    • Toggle ‘Go online!’ from green to grey.
  • There are no settings available to manage content through filters or chat on HiPal. However, there is a way to mitigate potentially inappropriate topics and images.

    To set ‘Explore’ to only show users’ friends:

    • Go to ‘Explore’ on the bottom right.
    • On the top right near the camera icon, select ‘Friends’. HiPal will default to ‘Friends’ whenever the user goes to ‘Explore’.
    • Note: ‘For You’ and ‘New’ will both still appear as options the user can access while in the ‘Explore’ feature. Similarly, this does not prevent the user from seeing inappropriate content posted by friends.
  • Users can report other users who may be bothering them or behaving inappropriately on the platform.

    To report a user:

    • Go to the profile of the user you wish to report.
    • Select the three dots icon on the top right.
    • Choose ‘Report’ and select the reason why.
    • Alternatively, open a chat window with the user you wish to report.
    • Select the three dots icon on the top right.
    • Choose ‘Report’ and select the reason why.

    To block a user:

    • Go to the profile of the user you wish to block.
    • Select the three dots icon on the top right.
    • Choose ‘Block’.
  • Users can manage their notification settings on HiPal.  HiPal also has a notification setting that, if checked, allows the app to read all device notifications (including personal contact names and notification content in text messages or other apps). This is disabled by default but parents and carers should ensure this feature has not been enabled.

    To manage ‘BOOM’ notifications:

    • Go to ‘Settings’ (gear icon) on the top left.
    • Select ‘BOOM’ at the very top of settings.
    • Choose ‘BOOM – Allow notifications outside of HiPal’ to enable or disable message notifications.

    To manage HiPal’s access to other device notifications:

    • Select ‘Settings’ (gear icon) on the top left.
    • Choose ‘Boom’ at the top of the settings page.
    • Under ‘Customize notifications’ select ‘Authorizations’.
    • If ‘Notification success’ says ‘Check’, HiPal is reading device notifications.
    • To disable this, select ‘Check’ next to ‘Notification Access’.
    • Select ‘HiPal’ to switch it from ‘Allowed’ to ‘Not allowed’.

    To manage notifications on iOS:

    • Go to the settings menu and scroll to ‘Notifications’.
    • Find ‘HiPal’ in the list of apps and toggle off the ‘Allow notifications’ option.

    To manage time on Android:

    • Go to the settings menu and scroll to ‘Apps’.
    • Find ‘HiPal’ in the list of apps and select ‘Notifications’.
    • Toggle off the ‘Show notifications’ option.

While HiPal may generally be safe with local friends, you should monitor your child’s usage of HiPal. Talk with your child regularly about the people they are connecting with on HiPal and remind them of the risks of chatting with strangers. As an app designed to emulate a walkie-talkie, you may talk to your child about limiting the usage of the app only to use the walkie-talkie feature with known friends.

To delete a user account within HiPal:

  • Go to ‘Settings’ (gear icon) on the top left corner and select ‘Delete Account’.
  • Press ‘Continue’ and ‘Confirm’ to delete the account.

To access the feedback email function within HiPal:

  • Go to ‘Settings’ (gear icon) on the top left corner.
  • Find and tap ‘Feedback’.