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Yahoo plays catch-up in messaging with video texting app

/ 05:42 PM July 30, 2015
This Jan. 14, 2015 photo shows signage outside Yahoo's headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif. Yahoo reports quarterly financial results on Tuesday, July 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

This Jan. 14, 2015 photo shows signage outside Yahoo’s headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif. Yahoo reports quarterly financial results on Tuesday, July 21, 2015. AP

NEW YORK—Imagine making a video call without other people being able to listen in.

Yahoo is trying to make that happen with Livetext, a new app that seeks to make video calling as private as texting.

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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.

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. Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype and other services already deliver video calls. Yahoo’s twist is silencing audio.

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It’s not clear how much traction this app will get. Friends will also need to be using Livetext, and for now, the pool of users is much smaller than those with established rivals. Yahoo says it didn’t want to tap its existing network of millions of users, in order to keep the experience intimate. To use Livetext, users create a separate ID and make friend requests using their phone’s address book.

Following tests in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Ireland, as well as some U.S. college campuses, the app will be released Thursday in the U.S., Canada, Germany, France and the U.K. Versions for Apple and Android devices will be available.

TOPICS: infotech, Livetext, Meggags, technology, Yahoo
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