Boxee founder Avner Ronen has launched Public, a chat app he described to Variety as ‘a third medium for broadcasting conversations’ after audio and video. The app appears similar to Talkshow in that a small group of people are able to participate in a text chat, but anyone can follow the conversation live …
[Broadcast conversations have] been around for decades on audio (radio and now podcasts) and video (TV and now YouTube). I believe messaging could be a third platform for conversations.
Public, which launched with an iPhone app and website Friday, can best be described as group chats with an audience. A few active participants chat with each other on a topic, be it “Game of Thrones,” a sports team or “Black Arts & Literature.” All these discussions happen in public, allowing anyone to follow them in real-time or read up on them later.
Ironically, Ronen says the app was inspired by the move towards end-to-end encryption in messaging apps.
In 2015, many messaging apps were looking to add more encryption and privacy safeguards in response to Edward Snowden’s revelations about government surveillance. “My contrarian instinct got me thinking: What would happen if someone would build the least secure messaging platform, where everything you say is public,” said Ronen during our interview, which was itself conducted on Public. “Hence the name.”
It’s not entirely a passive experience for the audience, though – they can still post comments and ask questions, but those are displayed separately from the main conversation, making them less disruptive. Anyone can start a Public chat, but it’s likely that most will be run by individuals and companies that already have an audience.
Public is a free download on iTunes.