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Snapchat, the ephemeral messaging app that has skyrocketed in popularity thanks to its resonance with teens, will soon have many new messaging tricks for its users. According to the Verge, the app’s latest update brings with it a host of new features, including text messaging and video calls. Snapchat confirmed the update on its company blog.
Until now, the bulk of Snapchat’s communications have hinged on ephemeral photo and video-based messages lasting no more than ten seconds. While Snapchat’s new focus on conversations, via both text and live video, are a departure from the photo-based messages that it has become popular for, there’s still a hint of ephemerality to them. For example, text messages disappear once a user leaves the conversation — users have to take a screenshot for later viewing.
The new live video option has some of the same spontaneous nature of Snapchat’s photos, as it can be started by just pressing on a new icon when the other user is present in the chat. Unlike a video in Google Hangout, for example, Snapchat’s video doesn’t have any wait time or calling mechanism — video is activated immediately and continues for as long as the icon is pressed.
Watch a demo in the video below:
This kind of immediacy separates Snapchat from other messaging tools like WhatsApp, or Line, which are jockeying for the same niche. And make no mistake: this is Snapchat’s entree into playing with those big apps. Facebook is looking at the same area: it recently updated its Messenger app with a feature that allows users to send photos to each other with a single tap. While Snapchat’s video product is a little different, both apps are now pushing similar features that could make for some heated competition down the line.
Snapchat hopes to transform from a novelty communication tool into a full-on messaging suite, but marrying the qualities from both is the key to making the app unique enough to survive in a crowded market.