Mobile messaging is all the rage, and almost everyone is looking for a way to spruce up the basic text message. Popular methods include emojis, stickers or GIFs, but now there’s new flair to add to the mix: Controllable, interactive avatars.
MimeChat, a six-person Romanian messaging startup, launched on Wednesday with a new chat app that lets users’ custom avatars interact with one another depending on what the message says. Avatars can hug, flirt, play the guitar or complete about 60 other actions, depending on the message. You can watch a video of it in action below.
The app was born out of Halcyon Mobile, a Romanian mobile development lab run by co-founders Szabi Szekely and Levi Szabo, who met over a decade ago at a high school in the country’s Transylvania region. The company usually builds apps for other startups and stumbled upon the idea for MimeChat in the process.
The idea, like many of the other visual chat apps before it, is that an avatar can convey a lot more than simple text.
“We felt like it was an evolution of emojis and stickers,” Szabo, MimeChat’s CEO, told Re/code. “It’s a richer way of expressing yourself with body language.”
The app has its work cut out for it. There are dozens of other messaging products on the market working to change mobile messaging with images and video. Many of them are partnering with established players like Facebook’s Messenger or Kik to piggyback on messaging apps that are more widely adopted. Others, like Keymoji and Blippy, are building emoji and GIF keyboards specifically for those services.
Szabo says he doesn’t have plans for that yet, and hopes that adding new actions every month will be enough to keep MimeChat from becoming a flash in the pan. The company raised a seed round from Frank Meehan, co-founder of SparkLabs Global, but Szabo isn’t sharing the details.
For now, the app is a bit ahead of the game in two ways. For starters, it’s launching on both iOS and Android, which is uncommon as most startups lack the engineering power to build for both operating systems.
It also has a revenue strategy in place — users can buy extra outfit options or hair styles for their avatars through in-app purchases. It won’t necessarily be a major moneymaker as you can still get most of the gear for free, but it has become popular for consumer apps to launch without a business plan and figure things out down the road. MimeChat’s trying something different, and in the crowded world of mobile messaging, different is necessary.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.