Flush with a huge $280 million funding round and over 200 million users for its mobile messaging app, Tango is branching out into new territory: standalone apps.
The company today unveiled Tango Music Pix, a small app that lets you share up to 10 photos with a short musical soundtrack. Unlike the original Tango app, which initially focused on video chats but morphed into a full-fledged messaging app, Music Pix is devoted entirely to a single function.
So why make a separate app instead of building this functionality into Tango?
“We’re starting to position Tango as a messaging platform. What we want to do is build an ecosystem of sister applications that revolves around Tango,” Chi-Chao Chang, Tango’s vice president of strategy, told VentureBeat in an interview. “They’re going to have more of a narrow focus that highlights and amplifies the messaging power that Tango has.”
In my brief testing, I found the app — available today on Android and coming this week on iOS — simple and easy to use. You just choose a few pictures and select a music track. Music Pix doesn’t include any artists I’ve heard of (which Tango will certainly need to fix), but it helpfully breaks down tracks by their mood.
While you can share your Music Pix creation through the typical channels — Facebook, Twitter, email, and text — the real crux of the app is its ability to share content directly on Tango. It’s yet another way for Tango to keep you within its ecosystem, which also includes integration with mobile games. The company also unveiled its first mobile game, Road Riot, last year.
Plenty of other apps let you combine your music and photos, but few have the support of such a large social network behind them. But, of course, it’s also only a matter of time until Facebook offers something similar inside Instagram. (The new Hyperlapse app is just a taste of what’s to come for new Instagram content.)
Music Pix is the first app to come out of Tango Labs, a group of engineers and product folks who are focused on exploring new ideas for the company. Chang said future breakout apps will also focus on producing content and sharing it with Tango, but he declined to mention any specific ideas.
“We’re starting to think about ways to make content even more powerful as a vehicle for conversation — we think content is the right pretext for conversation,” Chang said.
Tango is based in Mountain View, Calif., and has raised around $370 million so far from Alibaba, Access BridgeGap Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, and others.