Would you trust Yahoo, a company that suffered multiple historic data breaches, with your family’s conversations? What about with the daily banter between friends, roommates, or people in your book club? Five years after every single Yahoo account was affected by the massive 2013 hack, Yahoo and Oath are hoping that you’re willing to forget all that, and today they’re launching a new app — Yahoo Together — in hopes that it can become the destination for your life’s group chats and DMs. It’s available today on Android and iOS after previously being tested on an invite basis under the name Yahoo Squirrel.
Take one look at Yahoo Together and its similarity to Slack is unmistakable. (Slack is most popular in the enterprise, but can also be used by consumers for free.) From their general user experience to their color scheme to the custom reactions you can add below messages, these two apps look almost identical, and Yahoo is doing very little to differentiate itself from the app that has so clearly influenced Together. It lacks the third-party app integrations of Slack and some other features including voice calling, though. So it’s not exactly a Discord competitor. And for now, there’s no desktop app or web browser version, either.
A Yahoo account is required to use Together, but you can invite people to your group with a code that they enter after signing in; Yahoo doesn’t ask to sync your contacts to the cloud, at least.
Rooms work the same way in both; you can set up both public and private rooms within your group, though Yahoo refers to these as “topics” that are siloed off from the main chat. Just like Slack, files and media you upload remain easily accessible to everyone, and Yahoo says it has made “powerful search” for sorting through everything. There’s an activity view that shows each time you’ve been mentioned, and you can mute any room that you choose from pinging you with notifications.
If there’s one feature that Yahoo Together can call its own, it’s Smart Reminders. You can set a smart reminder for any message in a chat, and at the chosen time, everyone in the group will receive a notification about it. Another feature, Blast, highlights your message with a color to make sure that everyone sees it.
Together exists for the same reasons as Slack: email is annoying to deal with, and group texts are easy to lose track of. So just a few months after Yahoo Messenger finally shut down, we’re taking it back to chat rooms, folks. Good old chat rooms — albeit smarter chat rooms than the ones from 10 or 20 years ago. Both Slack and Together are rooted in the days of IRC, after all.
Why would you use Yahoo Together instead of Slack? Well, I don’t know. Slack has had its share of downtime recently, but it’s a much more fleshed out version of what Yahoo is going for here. and it has grown from a de facto work communication tool into a community platform that people are using outside of the office. Yahoo’s got a steep hill to climb if it wants to compete, and there’s no telling how committed it (and Oath) are to Together’s success.