Yahoo is once again dipping its toes in the messaging arena, testing an iOS and Android group chat app called Squirrel, which is invitation-only.
Oath, Yahoo’s parent company, confirmed the news to TechCrunch in a statement, noting it always seeks “creative ways to add value to our members’ lives…We listen closely and frequently test new product ideas based on research and feedback. Right now we’re experimenting with a new invite-only messaging app focused on improving group communication in everyday life.”
Those who have the app can invite others with a link, so the app does not need access to their contacts as most messaging services do.
TechCrunch noted this is important not only because Yahoo suffered damage to its reputation due to data breaches in the past, but also because users are more wary of what information about them is collected in the wake of the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Yahoo Messenger, launched 20 years ago, was one of the earliest and most popular messaging services for the PC.
Its app version had some success, though the likes of WhatsApp and Telegram have left it far behind. App Annie reported it was ranked 160 on iOS and 117 on Android in the social networking category.
In 2015 Yahoo launched Livetext, but it didn’t gain much traction and was killed off a year later.
Rather than one-on-one messaging, the new app is focused on group conversations. Users will access a main chat room, with the option to create sub-rooms to discuss particular topics.
Current apps which put the spotlight on group chat include Slack and Teams (for enterprise users) and GroupMe for consumers
“Organise groups and chats the way you want, so you can keep up without getting lost in the noise. Squirrel is invite only for now. Ask a friend with the app to invite you to a group!,” the app’s website stated.
“Create separate rooms for specific people or topics. Chat in the main room for group-wide announcements and banter,” it said, adding secret rooms allow for private chats.