Smapchat is not about pictures anymore, as the message service has introduced two new features: instant messages that vanish and video calls, becoming the latest social network to give users more privacy options.
In a blog post, Snapchat team said that the app missed presence: “There’s nothing like knowing you have the full attention of your friend while you’re chatting.”
The update for the app, which is released today on iOS and Android, continues Snapchat’s theme of being quick, easy and simple.
“We could not be more thrilled to announce Chat. Swipe right on a friend’s name in your Snapchat inbox to start chatting. When you leave the chat screen, messages viewed by both (you and your friend) will be cleared – but either of you can always tap or screenshot to save anything you’d like to keep (addresses, to-do lists, etc.)!”
The popular image sharing service has also added video calls. Snapchat will alert you when your friends are online and actively reading your chat messages. You can then press and hold the blue alert button in the lower right corner to start a live video chat.
Text and video chats are two big updates since the company released Snapchat Stories , which lets you save photos for 24 hours in a “Story” that you can share with multiple friends, back in October.
“With our last product update, we honored the true nature of storytelling – every Story has a chronological order – a beginning, middle, and end. We built Stories to help Snapchatters create narratives and share them with all of their friends in just one tap,” read the announcement.
Snapchat, which reportedly rejected a $3bn (£1.8bn) offer from Facebook to buy the app late last year, pushed this move as an attempt to ensure they hang onto their chunk of the lucrative photo and text communication market. The app’s rivals, such as Facebook, Vine, Bebo and possible even Twitter have all made moves in the instant messaging field in the past few months.
Earlier this month, Facebook announced users would have to download Messenger, a separate app which launched on iOS this week, if they wanted to carry on sending messages to their friends on their phones. Twitter this week said that improving private messaging is a top product goal.
The Los Angeles-based mobile-application startup also said today it hired Jad Boutros from Google Inc. as its director of information security. Boutros has been at Google since 2004 and previously was a senior software engineer at Oracle Corp., according to his LinkedIn profile.
Snapchat, born in 2011 in a fraternity house, provides tools that let users easily draw on photos, to put a mustache on a selfie, for example. The images are deleted seconds after they are accessed.
At the end of 2013 it was estimated that Snapchat had over 26 million users in the US alone, with many others around the world. And in a survey of American college students in February, 77% said they used Snapchat on a daily basis.