02 November 2015

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Yahoo launches Livetext messaging app to rival Snapchat and WhatsApp

Yahoo's unveiled a messaging app to take on the likes of Snapchat, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Livetext will allow users to exchange live video, text and emoticons, but without audio.


The app is available now for Apple and Android devices in the UK, US, Canada, Germany and France. "We wanted to find that new and expressive way of communicating," said Adam Cahan from Yahoo at a New York media event to launch the app.


Yahoo says video calls can be better than texts for expressing emotions, but their audio component makes private conversations public. With Livetext, you message friends by typing, just like texting, but you see video of friends without the audio.

Cahan said the Yahoo team chose to focus on video without audio to encourage people to use the app in different situations. "We wanted to make sure there is no inhibition of answering or connecting," he said.

He said that they'd found with audio, in many situations, people "aren't willing to engage".

At the event, product manager Arjun Sethi demonstrated "conversations" over smartphone connections that showed live facial expressions along with text and emoticons.

"We see video as a way to make your conversations more authentic, and we see text as a way to connect that's quick and non-intrusive," Sethi said.

The move comes with Yahoo aiming to refocus its business on mobile and video after losing leadership in web browser search. The tech industry already has a number of messaging apps ranging from Facebook-owned WhatsApp to Snapchat, which features disappearing video messages.

"Every platform shift leads to new forms of communication, driven by our desire to connect and interact in richer ways," Cahan said in a statement.

"We wanted to create a new way to communicate, blending the simplicity of texting with the emotion and immediacy of live video, to make your experience spontaneous and real."

The app was tested in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Ireland, as well as some US college campuses. It's the latest example of Yahoo trying to catch up in mobile services since Marissa Mayer became the company's CEO three years ago. Arjun Sethi came to Yahoo from the mobile messaging app MessageMe, bought by Yahoo last year.

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