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Update: As expected, the app has just gone live in the Google Play Store for the United States, Canada, France, Germany, and UK. You can download it here, and Livetext should also be rolling to to U.K., Canada, Germany and France as we speak.

After testing the waters by releasing the app to the iOS App Store in certain regions a few weeks back, Yahoo has come out publicly to unveil Yahoo Livetext, a new (unabashedly Snapchat-like) messaging app from the company with some unique twists to it…

The company in its press release describes Livetext as “a new app for one-to-one live video texting” that blends the convenience and ease of texting with the immediacy and intimate nature of live video. Basically, when you start typing out a message to a friend the front-facing camera of your phone will turn on and the person you’re messaging to can jump in and look at your face in real-time as you type. Other apps including Snapchat and the recently launched Beme (iOS only, for now) have adopted similar uses of the front-facing camera as a way to really capture the emotion people are feeling as they type out messages. It’s all too easy to misinterpret the sentiment of a message through text alone, which is also why emoji has become so popular.

According to Adam Cahan, Senior Vice President of Video, Design, and Emerging Products:

Every platform shift leads to new forms of communication, driven by our desire to connect and interact in richer ways. We wanted to create a new way to communicate, blending the simplicity of texting with the emotion and immediacy of live video, to make your experience spontaneous and real.

One extra attribute that makes Livetext stand out from the rest is that the live video feed doesn’t include audio, so you can’t hear your friend as they type. This makes sense as being able to hear your friend would cancel out the use of typing out messages, and it seems that Yahoo really believes the combination of the two methods is the big selling point for Livetext, what makes it special. It’s also ephemeral, of course, as the conversations happen in real-time and aren’t saved for later viewing.

“‘Lol’ isn’t needed to ensure the meaning of a text message,” Yahoo notes. And the company has a point. Anyone who has instant messaged with me enough knows that I use ‘lol’ practically habitually — far more than I actually laugh out loud, rather just to set a casual, non-matter-of-fact tone to my messages. I don’t know how often my friends and I would be able to use Livetext, however, as I typically don’t respond to my messages until minutes or hours after they’re sent. I’m a bit of an outlier when it comes to my messaging habits, though, so maybe a demographic like 14-18 year-old girls who (stereotypically, mind you) spend much more time staring at their phones than me (like my sister) might be able to get more use out of it! It’s already begun rolling out in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Ireland, with the app coming to Google Play in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Germany and France starting tomorrow.

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