On Thursday, Snapchat announced two brand new feature to their app. The company announced, in a blog post fittingly entitled “Putting the Chat Into Snapchat,” their new features: Chat. Chat is really two features in one. It allows users to send self deleting text messages, as well as have video calls with one another. This sort of functionality has a chance to drastically alter the scope and the nature of Snapchat. According to the blog post, the company has been looking for a way to make conversations more natural and lifelike:
But until today, we felt that Snapchat was missing an important part of conversation: presence. There’s nothing like knowing you have the full attention of your friend while you’re chatting. 1
The new features are pretty cool. When you open up the app, it will now tell you which of your friends are online as well. You can then swipe to open up a text messaging box. When users leave the text messaging the message stream will delete itself. The video chat is pretty unique. To initiate, you press and hold the little yellow button beside the text input area (above). On launch of the video chat, the app uses the front-facing camera. However, if you slide your finger up, it switches to the back facing camera:
Evan Spiegel, on of the founders of Snapchat, spoke with The New York Times about the update. He told the Times that the whole idea behind the update and new features was to mimic, as closely as possible, the way people talk and interact with one another off line, and to make the process as seamless as possible:
The goal has always been to move beyond messaging…We’re trying to take the traditional text conversation and make it better…If I’m walking around and want to show you something, why do I have to switch apps? It stops the conversation and makes it a transaction, rather than free-flowing.2
Spiegel also sat down with The Verge, for a all-encompassing interview that is really worth checking out.
- Team Snapchat, Snapchat Blog, “Putting the Chat into Snapchat,” 1 May 2014 ▲
- Jenna Wortham, New York Times, “Snapchat Goes After Mobile Messaging With a New Design,” 1 May 2014 ▲