What Is the Marco Polo App?

Send individual or group video chats with filters, voices, and ease

Marco Polo is a video messaging app available for iOS and Android. While messaging apps are common, Marco Polo lets you record the video and send it as a video message to be watched either in real-time or at a later date. Messages won't disappear or expire, so keeping up with the conversation is easier.

What Is Marco Polo?

Marco Polo is a one-way-at-a-time video chat service. You use the Marco Polo app on your device to record a video message to send to a friend or group of friends. The recipients can watch you live, but they can't send their video back at the same time (like a FaceTime call). The recipient can also watch your videos at a later time. Essentially, the people in the chat take turns sending videos.

How Marco Polo Works

Marco Polo works by allowing you to import your contacts by phone number, then add one or more people to a "Polo" or chat. It's essentially a video walkie-talkie, allowing you to send messages to friends, which they can watch either while you're recording the message or later. After watching your message, friends can then reply back to you.

When you download the app you'll have the option to import all of your phone contacts or add friends one at a time using their phone number. The app will also ask if you'd like to invite your contacts who aren't on Marco Polo by sending them a text message with information on downloading the app.

Your identity is based on your phone number, which means you aren't dependent on your friends (or parents/grandparents) to have social media accounts to use it. This app is used to send pre-recorded video messages, so it's not a live video chat like Facetime or Skype. But, there is an option to watch and send reactions live. You just won't be able to talk back and forth in real-time.

Marco Polo Home screen, Settings, Active Chat

Marco Polo in Real-Time

When sending "Polos" you have to wait for your turn. Only one member of a group chat can record a message at one time. However, if someone is watching while you record live then they do have the option to send a handful of reaction emojis during a live recording, that the recorder can see. Those reactions are limited and silent; happy faces, hearts, and a "thumbs up" emoji are all options. This is similar to watching someone on Facebook or Instagram live streams and tapping the "Like" or heart icons.

These one-way video messages will be saved for you and your message group to watch again later, including the reactions.

Real-Time Reactions

Sending the emojis is fun, especially for kids, but unless your recipient starts watching your message at the exact time you start recording their reaction will be out of sync with what you're saying. For true reactions, re-watch your message after you're done sending it.

Marco Polo Messaging

Your message recipient doesn't have to be available to watch the moment you start sending a Marco Polo. Your video message will be stored in your chat, for your friends to watch when they can. In fact, your messages will be saved for you to go back and re-watch a particularly funny story if you'd like to relive the fun or show someone else.

Marco Polo also has the capability for users to send a photo, or type a message on the screen. However, users cannot set the amount of time that the photos or messages will show, and the default setting is pretty short. If you've got more than a sentence to share then you're better off with good old text messaging.

Marco Polo can alert users of an incoming message if they choose to allow notifications.

More Information on Marco Polo Messaging

Marco Polo features include:

  • Ability to save and re-watch messages
  • Group or individual messaging
  • Emoji reactions
  • Text overlay
  • Voice Filters
  • Forward or selfie-facing camera modes

Marco Polo does not allow you to browse for friends of friends or total strangers. In order to chat with someone they must be added to your contacts. Children under 13 are also not permitted to create their own accounts.

Marco Polo does store video messages and personal information that you provide (such as profile photos and your phone number). If you have concerns about how they use that information you can view their privacy policy.

Marco Polo is free to download and has no ads.