You know how when you type "haha OMG that's so funny lol" into a text message, but in truth your face is barely showing signs of life? And how you look like a double-chinned zombie with eyes half-closed when you accidentally open the front camera? Well, Yahoo is bringing both of these fun and attractive scenarios to a new messaging app called Livetext.
Joining a fiercely competitive market dominated by WhatsApp, Snapchat and Facebook Messenger, Yahoo Livetext is a messaging app like any other, but while you type a live, silent video of your face is sent to the person you're typing to. Users have been exchanging short videos of themselves through Snapchat for months, but the difference here is the lack of sound.
Yahoo noticed how users were often wary of opening Snapchat videos in public for fear of either disturbing those around them, or of being embarrassed by whatever their friends are about to say. By taking the sound away, Yahoo has created a platform which feels almost secretive; you could be typing away to a friend and watch each other's reaction as you recall a funny story, but no one needs to be disturbed.
Tap on a friend in your Livetext contacts list, and as soon as you type the first letter of a message your front camera switches on and a live video stream begins. You can send text and emojis as you would in all other messaging apps, but the face of whoever is typing is always there. Livetext is available for IOS and Android
Video can be viewed live as you type, or automatically recorded if your friend doesn't join the conversation, and replayed to them when they open the message. Like Snapchat, Yahoo Livetext is ephemeral, meaning messages and their recorded video attachments are deleted as soon as they have been viewed.
Speaking at the app's launch event in New York, Yahoo's head of mobile and emerging products Adam Cahan said: "We wanted to find that new and expressive way of communicating... we wanted to make sure there is no inhibition of answering or connecting."
Cahan said that when there is audio in a messaging app, users "aren't willing to engage," adding: "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."