Bytedance has on Monday launched a new social app that combines instant message and forum functionalities on iOS and Android, another experiment in the social app landscape following the lackluster January debut of Snapchat clone Duoshan.
Feiliao, or Flipchat in English, is described in Apple’s App Store as an “interest-based social app.” Users can join open chat groups centered around different topics, ranging from eccentric boyfriends to popular TV series.
There are two kinds of chat groups in the app, open groups and normal groups. Open groups closely resemble forums on Baidu Tieba, where all posts are visible to all users and where there is no limit to the number of members. As of writing, the biggest chat group on the app contains around 3,500 people and appears to be a group for testing features, not posting actual content. Normal groups are similar to private chat groups and have a limit of 100 users per group.
Group creators automatically become the administrator and can name other members as moderators.
Users can also join celebrity fan groups, where they can interact with the celebrity and tip him or her, Feiliao’s user guide said. According to TechNode’s observations, there were no official celebrity accounts as of writing.
“Feiliao is an open social product,” Bytedance told TechNode in a statement. “We hope Feiliao will connect people with the same interests and make people’s life more diverse and interesting.”
Feiliao’s launch was met with some pushback from Tencent, which doesn’t allow users to open links to the Bytedance social app within WeChat. Alibaba, however, has partnered with Bytedance in providing Alipay as the only payment method in the app. Linking Feiliao with Alipay enables users to send transfer cash between users using hongbao, or red packets, and tip official accounts using gold “likes,” according to the app.
The process of downloading the app from Apple’s App Store shows that the app is still in very early stages of its launch. Searches using “Feiliao” as the keyword did not return results containing the Bytedance app. Only a search for “Feiliao Xingqu,” which translates to “fly chat interest” located the correct app.