Snapchat expands to include actual chat


Snapchat made the big announcement that it's adding, well, chat. (AFP / Getty Images)

This just in: now you can actually chat on Snapchat.

The messaging company, which had previously restricted itself to short, self-destructing photos and videos,  announced Thursday that it's expanding its services to include text and video chat to connect people in real-time. In an official blog post, the company's team said that it has always believed that the app, while great for connecting with friends, suffered from a lack of "presence."

"There’s nothing like knowing you have the full attention of your friend while you’re chatting," the company said in the post.

To that end, the firm said that it's rolling out the new feature Thursday. To use it, Snapchatters have only to swipe right on a friend's name to start a text chat.  In keeping with the app's focus on all things ephemeral, the chat transcript will disappear once both you and your friend leave the chat screen.

As with other parts of the app, users can take screenshots or tap to save anything that they want to preserve.

The app will also have a notification to let users know when your conversation partner is actively using the chat program, so that you can also conduct video chats with live footage.

Snapchat's move to become a more full program directly challenges a host of other messaging apps. These include WhatsApp and Facebook's in-house Messenger app, messaging stalwarts such as Microsoft's Skype and Google Hangouts, plus upstarts with popular overseas followings such as Line. The app has picked up users quickly, especially among the younger people that other social networks have struggled to attract over time. The company hasn't shared how many users it has, but said last year that more than 400 million messages are received every day.

With more features, however, Snapchat might be in a good position to expand its base of active users, and gain a little more mainstream appeal.

Take a look at how the feature works here:

 

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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