Unlike many other social media platforms, Snapchat has only been available on mobile since its inception more than a decade ago. However, the company launched a web-based version of the popular messaging app on Monday.
Snapchat is an unlikely new competitor for Zoom
The goal is to allow users to switch between their phones and computers while keeping their conversations on the platform going. However, the new desktop option may also help Snapchat compete with a surprising rival: Zoom.
While Snapchat is best known for allowing users to send disappearing chats and photos as snaps, the company claims that video calling has become a popular feature of the app.
Snapchat claims to host over 100 million video calls per month with up to 15 participants. It now hopes that when people join those calls from a desktop, the service will become more accessible and more pleasant to use.
The concept is similar to video calling services like Zoom, which exploded in popularity during the pandemic, but with some Snapchat-specific selling points.
According to the company, users will be able to initiate calls more quickly and easily because they are already connected to friends and can see when others are online. Snapchat’s signature photo lenses, which can give users dog ears, freckles, or other features, will soon be available for video calls on the web version.
The web version of Snapchat, like the app, opens directly to the camera to encourage users to send photos to friends. Users will see a list of their recent friend conversations in a sidebar, where they can open snaps or start a chat. According to the company, the web version will not include all of the features of the mobile app, such as the “Snap Map” where users can track their friends or the discover section.
“With so many people in our community spending more time online — whether it’s for remote learning or working, streaming or just plain browsing — we saw a huge opportunity to make it easier for our community to stay connected throughout the day,” says the company’s CEO, John McKinney.
Snapchat for the web prohibits users from taking screenshots of chats or snaps to protect their safety and privacy. In addition, the company developed a “privacy screen” to hide the Snapchat window if users click away.
Snap, Snapchat’s parent company, has been hammered on Wall Street after reporting a larger-than-expected loss in its most recent earnings report and later warning investors that it had slashed its upcoming quarterly forecast due to a worsening economy. Snap shares have fallen 70% since the beginning of the year, and the company is set to report second-quarter earnings later this week.
Snap introduced a new paid subscription service called Snapchat last month, which can potentially increase its revenue. The web version could be a selling point for the new $3.99 per month subscription option.
The web-based Snapchat+ version will be available to all users in Australia and New Zealand, as well as Snapchat+ users in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada when it launches. Snapchat+ subscribers in France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates will soon be able to use the service.