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AN UPGRADE HAS NOW ENTERED THE CHAT

Gen Z-targeted apps offer next-gen virtual chat rooms

Online chat rooms have been popular since the dawn of the social Internet, but they’ve become a staple means of communication for today’s Gen Zs, especially as a large portion of Zs’ social lives take place in video chat platforms via their smartphones and computers. Now, apps are catering to this by creating new ways for users to connect and consume content together, regardless of where they are IRL.

CAPTURE

The traditional chat room gets an tech-heavy upgrade with Capture. This contextually-aware app’s chatrooms are generated with the help of an A.I., which creates channels of conversation based on objects and scenes around the user in real time. Capture’s A.I. can recognize these surroundings via machine learning and data harvested through a smartphone’s camera and mic. For example, if a user takes a picture of a concert billboard, Capture generates topics around the billboard’s singer or their songs. Users can engage in a chat (which can be public or private), or a channel created by an admin (think brands, bloggers, or creators who want commentary).

SQUAD

Squad is your standard group chat app with a fun twist geared toward Gen Zs: the ability to screen-share. The app can be accessed on your smartphone and allows up to six participants per video chat. Users can “flip” their camera to show their phone screen so that everyone in the chat can follow the user’s activity as if it were happening on their own phone. This creates the ultimate hangout space and sense of connectivity, even when participants are apart. When a user goes into screen-sharing mode, Squad suggests apps to access—such as Snapchat, Instagram, and the wildly popular TikTok—to get the party going.

BUNCH

Those who spend hours in the basement gaming and talking smack to their friends over their headsets can now leave the sofa and still continue their play with Bunch. The app allows users to play games on their smartphones while video chatting with up to eight people. Those in the chat can opt to play the same game, creating a new style of portable gaming. Bunch comes with a selection of its own games for users, but it also offers more mainstream options such as Fortnite.