Roger, a walkie-talkie-style voice messaging app that launched in late 2015, has landed a $1 million seed round led by Social Capital.
According to techcrunch, Voice messaging — known as push-to-talk — is nothing new. It originated in China in response to the complexities of punching out Chinese characters for text messages and the rise of blockbuster chat app WeChat. Voice messaging feature is supported in almost every mainstream messaging app — including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, iMessage, Line and more — but the habit hasn’t really stuck with smartphone owners outside of Asia.
That’s where New York-based Roger, which was founded by ex-Spotify engineers Ricardo Vice Santos and Andreas Blixt, hopes to make a dent.
The app — which is initially for iOS with an Android version in beta — is beautifully designed and made with simplicity in mind. You select a friend to message and then simply click the large button to begin recording. That’s how the basics work.
Vice Santos, who is Roger’s CEO, said the company has deliberately built the app to ensure that the experience is spontaneous. For example, you can’t cancel a recording once you start. While users can’t hear their own voice, since people often detest doing so, while you can’t save messages that are received from others. In a nice touch, the service can link up to iMessage to send messages to those without app, they can listen to your message via a link that loads a web-based recording.
“The overall objective is how do we get people to talk more often,” Vice Santos told TechCrunch in an interview — using Roger, of course.
“There are already [push-to-talk] solutions [available], but we weren’t using any of them. So we asked ourselves: ‘Can we do this dead simple thing to talk and reach anyone with an app?” he added.