Yahoo this week began testing a new messaging app on iOS and Android called “Squirrel,” aimed at organizing private group chats with friends, family members, and work acquaintances. The app’s main feature is that group access is private and people can only be added through invitation links (via TechCrunch).
Squirrel looks visually similar to apps like Slack and Discord, offering groups access to a “Main Room,” where everyone can meet up and chat, and then there’s an option to create side rooms for more specific topics. These can potentially include “Secret Rooms” for chats hidden from the main group and one-on-one threads. Users in all rooms can share photos, documents, or links in chats, as well as create custom reactions.
Users can mute rooms they don’t have any interest in, and administrators can send “blasts” to all users that flag priority messages. Whenever someone mentions your name, a separate Activity view will accumulate these messages so it’s easier to scroll through and get caught up with the conversation.
Yahoo originally debuted its Yahoo Messenger app on the iOS App Store in April 2009, giving users the ability to instant message their contacts when away from their computer. In the years since, messaging apps like Apple’s iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and others have surged in popularity and caused users to leave Yahoo’s platform for ones more popular among their own friend groups. Today, Yahoo Messenger is #167 on the App Store’s most-downloaded Social Networking app list.
According to Yahoo parent company Oath, one of the main reasons for Squirrel’s creation is “improving group communication in everyday life.”
“At Oath, we’re always looking for creative ways to add value to our members’ lives,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “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.”
Since Squirrel is invite-only, to gain access you’ll have to ask someone who already has it to send you an invite to a group. According to TechCrunch, “the ability to kick off a conversation group is also currently in invitation-only mode.” The iOS app is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch .