Kik moves further from its private messaging roots as it adds stickers, Zynga games and updates Android interface

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The more Kik iterates, the further away it gets from its roots as a fast, private instant messaging client.

Since its sixth version was released on iOS and Android, the Waterloo-based startup has added a number of HTML5-based services called Cards, which lets users share YouTube videos, Reddit photos, memes and even play games.

Version 6.5 stacks even more bricks on top of an increasingly-tenuous game of virtual Jenga, partnering with Zynga for a game called 1 Word, similar to the popular mobile game 4 Pics 1 Word. The new version also adds stickers to complement the numerous emoji already available within the app. There are now over 25 Cards to choose from, and some of them, including the games recently added to the list, are technically impressive for being created in HTML5.

But perhaps the most contentious addition to the app is the ability to chat with Kik users without actually adding them to your contact list. Kik spam — random messages from users not in your contact list — has become rampant in recent months, forcing me and my friends off the service entirely. While it’s ostensibly possible to ignore messages from unknown users, these messages are merely cordoned off to a secondary inbox that accumulates cruft until you decide to delete these messages. There doesn’t appear to be a way to block unwanted messages entirely.

Kik, at least on Android, has gained one really useful feature: a new interface. For a long time, the app was built using older Gingerbread-era design guidelines, and required a physical (or virtual) back button to return to previous screens. Now the app has inherited a Holo-esque look with an on-screen back button and a flatter colour palette. It’s not a huge change, but it’s definitely prettier.

With newcomers Moped, MessageMe, Hike, Line, WeChat, Viber and others stealing market share, Kik’s feature creep may not be met with enthusiasm by its loyal user base, but the company is doing what is necessary to earn some much-needed revenue, and continue to evolve from an IM app into an ecosystem.

Download Kik for iOS and Android.