We wrote about Chaatz earlier this year when it launched as a messaging app targeted at emerging markets, but now it seems to be going in a slightly different direction with a new feature that taps on its unique offering of a ‘Chaatz number.’

The ‘Chaatz number’ feature was a central part of the app’s original offering. It is a number that the chat app assigns to you so you can keep your real phone number entirely secret, which means that you don’t have to reveal your real number to people including marketing and sales personnel, work acquaintances or those whom you meet on your travels.

Now, this Chaatz number is being extended for use in a new feature called Chaatz Connect, which has rolled out on both the iOS and Android apps. It basically lets you talk to anyone who has signed up for the feature. All you have to do is select which countries you’d like to see people from — the initial roll-out involves 60 countries — and then you will be shown a tile-based list of random people. Send any of them a request, and then you can start chatting while maintaining your privacy, given that you won’t be revealing your real number to these strangers at all.

Chaatz Connect 730x431 Whatsapp rival Chaatz now lets you talk to strangers without having to give your real phone number

Honestly, it reminds me a bit of Tinder, but a much more liberal version (and without the swiping; you just scroll and choose). You can basically strike up a conversation with a pool of strangers who have connected their number to the feature  — all without having to be restricted by location, and without having to connect your Facebook account.

Other than Chaatz Connect, the new update adds animated emoticons and a wider array of characters. You can also change your chat room wallpaper background now, see when others are typing, as well as add filters to photos.

With its latest update, Chaatz seems more geared towards users who value anonymity (with the stronger emphasis on the alias number and richer features), rather than focusing on users in emerging markets.

However, as we wrote previously, the long-term goal of Chaatz’s founders is to connect the remaining population of five billion feature phone users around the world to a mobile social network. In the third quarter of this year, the team will launch an app solely for feature phones to allow users to communicate on the same platform as those with smartphones — and Chaatz Connect could be an interesting penpal-like feature, if it gains enough users on the platform.

Chaatz: Google Play | iOS

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