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Facebook intros a new teen-centric video-based social network called ‘LifeStage’

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Facebook was once hip and cool amongst teenagers, but opening it up to all led to more intrusion by nosy relatives than friendly conversations. Also, its thunder was stolen away by the ephemeral video messaging app Snapchat, who teenagers now prefer more for personal messaging.

Facebook is thus, releasing a new standalone iOS app to lure teenagers into thinking that they still care about them, and also to take on Snapchat, yet again.

This new iOS app, called LifeStage, has been designed by a teen himself, keeping in mind the needs of every other teen. And that’s why there’s a restriction to those who can use and enjoy the complete set of features that the application has to offer. You need to be a teen, i.e 21 and under to be able to use LifeStage and share your life on it. But if you’re 22 and older, then you will only be able to view your own profile. That’s it. It means you’re probably too old to be a part of the league, my friend!

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The users are required to answer some particularly odd biographical questions about themselves. But instead of providing more of a textual-based experience, the company has focused on video with this new app. The app will ask you to record video snippets of your happy face, sad face, likes, dislikes, best friend, and more that can be viewed by other visiting your profile. Also, you’ll be able to unlock more questions by answering the former ones already unlocked in your profile.

It has been built with the objective to provide high-schoolers with a medium to know more about their classmates. Taking cues from 2004-esque Facebook, the app asks you to choose your high school when you sign up for the first time. And to carry on the tradition even further, it only shows you other people from your school once 20 or more people from your school have joined the platform. You’ll now be able to see the video snippet profiles of people at your school and the ones nearby.

Built by 19-year old Michael Sayman, a Facebook product manager, LifeStage works in a way very much similar to Facebook. In conversation with TechCrunch, Sayman says,

I wanted to work on an app that my demographic would relate to, or at least that my friends would want to use. [So], I went back and looked at Facebook from 2004. At the time I was in second grade.

In the main user feed, you’ll be able to see updates from friends who’ve recently answered more questions and updated their profiles. You can then tap through to see specific answers on that person’s profile, or swipe to skip and discover something else about them.

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And to add a competitive edge to the app, the teens will be ranked higher on the basis of the number of questions they’ve answered. While emoji’s(sunglasses or poop) are also being used to depict who’ve recently posted something on their feed or not. It also appears that the app has liberal blocking anfd reporting features to keep creeps, older citizens(huh!?) and outsiders away from the app.

Also, if you’ve been thinking that — all this okay, i like it. But what about messaging? How do I contact others?

I’m deeply saddened to say, but Sayman adds that there are no messaging features built into the app. He further goes on to explain,

my friends and I have a bajillion messaging apps we already use and love, so what’s the point of having another messaging app? It just seems annoying to me.

Instead, the users have the option to fill their bio or ‘Reach Me’ line of text with their Snapchat, Instagram or any other usernames they like. This shows that Sayman believes that his app still has a long way to go, and it won’t be able to compete with Snapchat at the moment. But, this new domain into video gives users a more noticeable stance for answering and viewing the likes of each other. And with Mark Zuckerberg hell bent on making video the heart of all its apps and service, this could be a bold experiment for improving Facebook as a whole.

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However, with LifeStage, Facebook is getting into the fight, knowing — okay, I might have a chance to hit a couple low blows, but I’m definite to lose amongst other competitors. And if you look at Facebook’s standalone app stack — Poke, Slingshot, Paper  — you’ll notice that it hasn’t been a pretty sight for them.

A hands-on guy fascinated by new apps, technologies and enterprise products.

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