Yahoo’s Livetext, OrbMi, and Real Communication Through Voice – How to communicate better with technology and messaging apps.
Yahoo is taking another shot at the messenger market with a very odd app called Livetext…and Yahoo is a perfect example why real communication innovation from some of the largest tech companies might be a thing of the past. Yahoo has recognized a problem in the way we relate to technology and has tried to provide a solution…great….but it’s a solution that makes our relationship with technology and our most important contacts worse, not better.
Livetext is an odd combination of mute video and text. With Livetext, you can watch someone text you that message they decided to send instead of call you about….and isn’t that really what we have missed? You can view someone avoiding auto correct mistakes, while you wait for something that takes longer to share than to just say so you can read it. At least with a text message, you don’t feel the need to stare at your phone while waiting for the next thought to be fully typed and sent.
“Welcome to Livetext for iOS, the most natural way to have REAL conversations. It’s live video texting, without sound. You will feel like your friends are right there with you,” explains the app description on iTunes. Hmm….because when I am with my friends, we are always extra quiet. Nothing says “party time” like everyone muting themselves like it’s nap time or a funeral.
You read that right…..Yahoo feels the most natural way to really communicate with someone is combining your muted video with text. As a cost saving measure, I wonder if Yahoo got rid of their pingpong tables and team outings budget, and just emptied a corner for Charades for this to seem like natural human interaction. You can now mime laughter while typing “LOL”….and the other person can stare at their phone while you do both. It’s like an extra slow silent film on your phone that you can’t easily look away from without offending your friend. “Yahoo!” to that!
The Livetext notice recognizes that audio is “rarely convenient in today’s fast-paced world,” so there’s no need for it, they add. However, they don’t recognize how to make communication better. (Also, it’s an odd idea from a company who’s brand is basically a sound we make when excited instead of one we type out. If this app came from a company called “Shhhh!” or who’s logo is just an emoji, it would make a little more sense.)
Yahoo recognizes that voice and video can be convenient for the sender…who controls when they are ready to start a communication…but the receiver might view it as an interruption if they are at work, or dinner, or are not able to respond back with their own voice or able to easily listen to your voice. Also, they don’t realize that we have not been waiting for a way to watch people type their short form text messages instead of just both having a call when we are both free.
More importantly….Yahoo fails to recognize that having to watch someone’s live video can still be inconvenient You can look away from a text or juggle a few things in between your response, but Livetext is even more invasive, because while they have kept the receiver from being embarrassed by potential sounds, we still have to guard our phone screen from what might be shown or we have to at least give our phone our full attention while we wait for the person (who already knew this might not be the best time to call us, and instead has still forced us without invite to make us even more glued to our phone than if they had just sent us a text and some pics) to complete their urgent thought. “Hey….are you NOT interested in this video I’m sharing??!…it looks like you set your phone down so you could finish that work email and talk to your co-worker at your desk while I am typing this to you!”
For innovation to work, it needs to do three things. It needs to first recognize a problem. It needs to understand the reasons behind that problem (….the hard part). Then it needs to provide a solution which solves that issue in a new and better way than our current options.
People want to communicate better with their most important contacts through technology. We want to find ways that are convenient to send and receive. A call or even a voice message from someone is not always convenient to get on our phone, because we might be preoccupied with something else at the time…aka our own life.
However, the most natural way to express your thought is with your voice and the most natural way to have a real conversation with someone is using your voice….not muted video. We recognize that both the person sending the message and the person getting the message want convenience. What has been missing from our messaging options is not instant silent video, but rather delayed rich voice messaging….messages that don’t disturb you when busy on your phone, but rather go to your Orb whenever you want…… Welcome to OrbMiTweet