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Yahoo Introduces New Messenger ‘Livetext’

With Yahoo’s new messenger app, emoticons become a thing of the past.

Livetext is the name of Yahoo’s new video messenger, which combines traditional text based conversations with a live camera video stream. This video stream does not include sound, effectively turning all users of the app into texting mimes. Users will be able to type back and forth to each other while viewing each other’s facial expressions.

The idea Livetext is based on has been met with some criticism.  Ariha Setalvad from The Verge describes the decision to mute audio as “counterintuitive,” likely with the belief that muting audio will only hinder communication in app made to communicate.  It’s a reasonable point of view.

Tech Times contributor Alexandra Burlacu seemed less than impressed in an article she wrote about Livetext, as she wrote that “Yahoo apparently feels that the most natural way to communicate with someone is attaching video to your text.”

In other words, Yahoo apparently feels that the most natural way to communicate with someone is attaching mute video to your text. Basically, for it to feel like a real conversation the other person has to watch you type, based on the logic of Livetext.

However there may be some validity to Yahoo’s concept as well.  Traditional video calls are not reasonable to make in public settings, such as in class or at an event.  With the audio muted, users will be able to communicate to others privately while in the public and still enjoy some of the perks associated with video conferences.

The question is whether the concept will be enough to attract users from an already saturated market.  While Yahoo used to be one of the kings of desktop instant messaging, they have struggled against the likes of Facebook, Skype, and even traditional SMS.  Livetext communications will certainly be different from those on other services, but it isn’t clear if the concept will be enough for the app to be widely adopted by the masses.

The app is currently only available in Hong Kong.  Yahoo has not announced if or when it will be released worldwide.

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