Snapchat is one of the most actively used social apps on iOS. And Apple(s AAPL) has made a change to its mobile operating system that could have huge implications for the entire premise of ephemeral photo messaging.
As MacRumors noted, developers with early access to the iOS 7 beta made note of an interesting change in the ability to take screenshots: “In iOS 7, screenshot behavior has been altered, and as the release notes state, ‘Active touches are no longer canceled when the user takes a screenshot.'”
The premise of Snapchat is that photo messages can only be viewed for a set amount of time, typically a couple of seconds. After that, the messages are no longer viewable by the recipient. To discourage the temptation to try to save those messages with a screenshot, messages in Snapchat automatically close when a screenshot is attempted. In addition, the attempt triggers a notification to the sender that the recipient was trying to break Snapchat’s rules. (Though there are workarounds.)
Users say that with a change in iOS 7, the window no longer closes, so it is possible to screenshot a Snapchat message. And that notification to the sender is also no longer triggered.
Of course, this new functionality is in the beta version of iOS 7 — this is far from the final version of the software that Apple will release to customers some time this fall. And there’s plenty of time for Apple to reverse course or fix screenshot-taking to accomodate the core principle of Snapchat — as well as a likely wave of privacy-oriented messaging apps that could be stymied by this iOS 7 feature.