I do understand why a developer would see reason to make a new messenger app. They see how to make it faster, add new features, or they want to create a better interface. But ultimately, any new app runs into the same problem, people already have their chat app of choice and they don’t what the hassle of migrating their contacts again.
So, as you say hello to Yahoo Livetext, consider whether you have enough energy to convince all of your friends to download it with you.
More of the same
Whatsapp Messenger, Twitter, Hangouts – we are reaching a point where you need a spreadsheet app just to keep track of where you were having your last conversation. But that hasn’t stopped Yahoo Livetext stepping into this crowded marketplace. In their defense they do have a nice interface and a unique idea – but I’m not convinced it isn’t all just a bit too gimmicky.
Starting Yahoo Livetext everything feels fairly standard. You have to enter your phone number to receive a code via text, and you need a Yahoo ID which requires you to start a Yahoo email account if you don't already have one. It’s not a hard process, but one that does demand a good deal of information.
Once signed up its time to start Livetexting… or at least trying to convince friends to get on to the service so you can Livetext them. You can search by Yahoo ID (on the off chance they have one) or through your contacts, with the app sending them a text it they are not already connected.
This all looks really nice, with any contacts you make showing up in nice tiles with their chosen display icon.
Now with video!
Enough of the buildup though, what is it that makes Yahoo Livetext different? Well, the hint is the word live. Connecting with a friend, your cameras will both turn on and you will be able to see each other in real time. There is no audio though, with text popping up over the video for you to communicate - turning you into a living emoji. It’s an odd experience and every time I used it at some point I would find myself talking pointlessly to my phone.
One issue with the process is that typing requires that you keep a close eye on your phone's keyboard. This made it hard to watch what he was doing, particularly under the wall of block text that was our conversation.
Not that we didn’t have fun with Yahoo Livetext. Switching to the rear camera turned the whole experience into a virtual office tour - and a weird mix of first-person and text adventure game as he directed me around the office and told me what to do (though I drew the line at jumping over a desk).
The video worked well on the tiny screen, though could get very choppy when the connection was bad (and when I was running) which seemed to be more often than either of us would have expected (on both counts). That said, it made our phones hotter than the sun, making for an uncomfortable experience.
Good at what it does - though it's hard to work out its use
Yahoo Livetext is certainly a novel and strange addition to the plethora of chat apps out there. It works well, but clearly taxes your device and probably destroys your data plan if you are using it on the move. The appeal here is similar to something like Snapchat, fleeting images and moments to share with the small group of people you can talk into signing up to the service.
If you think you can see a use for Yahoo Livetext it’s great, but there are huge caveats – the biggest of which is that you will probably have no one to talk to before you talk people into using it and after the novelty wears off.