The image-based messaging app is about to get proper instant messaging support, along with video calls while staying true to its ephemeral nature.
Snapchat has always been a different proposition to other messaging apps like Whatsapp. Communication is mostly done through images, with captions. Famously, these are all deleted when the conversation ends. This made it ideal for young people to show each other pictures of their anatomy, although it has always been possible to screenshot chats.
The firm is now adding proper, text-based instant chat in a clear attempt to go after the massive popularity of Facebook-owned Whatsapp. But to best the largely text-based service, Snapchat is also adding video chats. And in many ways, this is quite logical because video is as temporary as the image-chats the app made famous.
To start a text chat, users simply swipe right on a contact. Once you leave a chat, it goes away for good, although it is possible to save images and text by tapping the screen. Once you're in a text chat though, you can press the share video button, and keep it held until your chat has finished. You can use either the front, or rear-facing camera to do this.
While the features seem to be an attempt at bettering those from mobile phone companies - let's be honest, phones are about the internet now far more than calls and "texts" - and Whatsapp, Snapchat still doesn't have it quite right. For one thing, signing up to it is so much more frustrating that Whatsapp, which just needs a phone number. Still, it's a feature the kids are going to love, so who are we to argue?
The update is live now for iOS and Android.
Read more: Whatsapp voice calling coming soon?