Yahoo is hoping to capitalize on the popularity of messaging apps. Source: Slash Gear

The popularity of messaging apps has been on the rise lately. Last year, the average number of monthly users of major messaging apps in the market hit 5 billion. Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger are on course to surpass 2 billion active monthly users each. This is the perfect indication of just how fast these apps have grown.

Well, there’s a new app that’s looking to enter this market. Yahoo has quietly launched a brand new messaging app that will be available for both iOS and Android platforms. The app is called Squirrel. It will solely be focused on family, friends, and workgroups. The messaging app allows people to share messages, links, and photos with other users. The biggest difference between the Yahoo messaging app and the rest is simple. Access to any group in this app will be on invite-only basis. You will have your own special invite link that you can send to close friends and family who want to join your group.

Yahoo is hoping to act fast and attempt to cash in on the popularity of communication applications. Source: TechCrunch

Squirrel was first spotted by AndroidPolice. Yahoo, through its parent company Oath, has since confirmed that the app is already in test mode. Oath said in a statement that the company is always striving to deliver better products for its users. It also noted that the messaging app is aimed at improving group communication in everyday life.

The track record that Yahoo has when it comes to messaging apps is mixed at best. Yahoo Messenger, one of the first messaging apps, was launched 20 years ago in 1998. Despite its early mover advantage, the messaging app was entirely computer-based, and was later surpassed by more dynamic, mobile-based platforms most notably WhatsApp which was created by a former Yahoo employee. The company then launched Yahoo Messenger mobile, a mobile-based messaging app to compete with WhatsApp. The success of the messenger app was not as high as expected. Yahoo Messenger ranks at number 160 on iOS and 117 on Android.

Also the business model appears to be modeled after Facebook’s “invite-only” policy early in the company’s life. Source: Android Police

It’s not yet clear how different Squirrel will be. The company is, however, looking to offer a better group experience compared to current apps in its efforts to attract users. The app will work in a very simple way. Members who are part of a group will get access to the “main room” where they can interact with other fellow group members. There’s also the option to create side rooms for more customized conversations. If rooms are not relevant to you, there’s an easy option to mute conversations from there.

Essentially, Yahoo has studied how people interact in messaging groups and wants to offer a better experience with its new app. But the company is not the only one that has spotted this opportunity. Facebook has also been expanding its overall approach to groups on messaging apps. The social media company is expected to add new features to its Messenger app. Squirrel is still not fully complete and Yahoo will continue to make a few tweaks while it tests it out in the market.