News Column

Social Media Primer: What Is Snapchat?

Dec. 27, 2012

Omar L. Gallaga, Austin American-Statesman


It's not easy for new apps to break out and get lots of attention as a potential "next big thing," but Snapchat appears to be doing just that based on an intriguing mix of technologies.

Built by a very small team in California, the app for iOS and Android devices mixes texting with photo-taking. But the thing that makes Snapchat stand out is that the photos self-destruct. The sender can choose when the photo expires, up to 10 seconds, and at that time, the image disappears on the device of the sender and the recipient. The company says it doesn't save or store those images, either. And if the recipient tries to capture a screenshot of the image before it disappears, the sender is notified. Recently Snapchat added video messages to the app as well. Surely there will be ways people will find to hack the "self-destructing" part of the app, but on its face, the idea is a good one, even if it has already been painted by some as an app most ideal for sexting.

Snapchat says the app accelerates photo messaging, working much faster than traditional SMS and allowing for "real-time picture chatting." Already, 50 million photos are being shared using the service per day and there are reports that Facebook may be working on something similar as well.

Source: (c)2012 Austin American-Statesman, Texas Distributed by MCT Information Services

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