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Yahoo launches Squirrel chat app, because WhatsApp and others aren't enough

Yahoo has created a new group-focused messaging app — but will a few noteworthy features be enough to bag it success?

Published onMay 8, 2018

Yahoo Squirrel app

I don’t know what’s more surprising: the fact that Yahoo is still a thing under Verizon ownership, or that it has decided to launch an instant messaging app. Squirrel, spotted by Android Police, is an invite-only group chat app that allows you to create rooms for people or topics.

On paper, it sounds like the group functionality in any other IM app, down to the ability to mute rowdy rooms. However, the execution seems more in line with workplace app Slack‘s channels, letting you create groups for a select subset of the main group and allowing you to send a “blast” message for important messages.

As you’d expect from any modern messaging app, Squirrel also supports file sharing, ranging from photos and documents to website links. Custom reactions, mentions, and secret rooms round out the list of features.

Is it doomed to fail?

It’s an invite-only app for now, but the question is whether the average consumer wants to use it. There are a ton of IM apps available, such as market leaders WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook Messenger. Then there are the likes of LINE, Viber, Telegram, Skype, and Google Allo.

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It makes you wonder whether there really is enough room for a new entrant, even with a few differentiating features. For example, Google’s Allo brought the Google Assistant, incognito chats, and whisper/shout function, but these haven’t propelled the app to dizzying heights.

There’s also the issue of privacy, which is a massive hurdle for Yahoo to overcome. Yahoo’s data breaches, reported in 2016, affected an unprecedented three billion accounts. The ailing web pioneer will need to build up trust if it hopes to attract users to the platform.

Keen on trying it out? You’ll have to wait for an invite from somebody who already has it for the moment, but we’ll let you know when the situation changes. View the Squirrel Play Store listing below.

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