Snapchat is no longer a messaging app, so says serial entrepreneur Cyril Paglino.
Last September, Paglino published what he saw as the transition of the popular app from private messaging to public storytelling. Even with the release of Snapchat’s Chat 2.0 earlier this year, he is betting that people don’t want to use the app for calling.
One year later, he and his team of 9 employees based out San Francisco have unveiled their solution: Tribe. It’s version 2.0 of an app they built to let friends chat quickly and easily by layering video, audio and text into one experience.
Tribe is a video and an audio calling app, where messages are limited to 15 seconds and sent back and forth like text messages. There’s no live component unlike FaceTime or Skype. Instead it mimics the function of a walkie-talkie. Mashable named Tribe an app to watch for SXSW 2016.
On Wednesday, Tribe introduced several product changes, one which the team hopes will make the app more useful than the abundance of other messaging apps out there.
The app now recognizes certain spoken words what Tribe calls “Magic Words” and will overlay them on top of a recorded video message.
For example, when someone says a celebrity’s name like soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo, the app will shortly thereafter bring up a clickable word. In the case of a name, it will bring up a short bio from Wikipedia and his Instagram and Twitter accounts.
That function is powered by Google’s speech recognition software as well as integrations with other apps and sites, including Instagram, Twitter, Wikipedia and YouTube.
“We think we can make video a habit.”
“Text is the main medium to communicate thanks to your computer and our keyboard, but the more we go into our lives, more on the go, we notice that video could be the next big channel,” Paglino told Mashable.
Related context, including weather and location, are also automatically displayed in every video if a user chooses. Tapping the location will allow the recipient to hail an Uber with one tap.
In this way, the Tribe team argues that the app is the most useful way to coordinate. “No kids are going to make plans to go to the movies on Snapchat. They’re going to Snapchat from the movies with a filter, but not making plans. That’s where Tribe comes in,” said Ryan Morris, head of marketing at Tribe.
In addition to the relaunched version, Tribe announced a $3 million seed round in funding from Sequoia Capital, Ludlow Ventures, Partech Ventures and Kima Ventures.
So far, Tribe does not have any ads, and the app is free to download. Paglino said a potential revenue source could be affiliate linking such as purchasing movie tickets or products from Amazon.
For now, the team said they plan to focus on increasing speed and reliability while decreasing data usage and the battery drain of the app problems familiar with Snapchat.