May 4, 2014

First Impressions of Snapchat Chat

I dig it. Here’s why.

A few days ago Snapchat released an update, introducing Snapchat chat. It’s millions of selfie-loving, doodle-doting users can now chat privately, one on one (video embedded below).

This morning I Snapchat chatted (is that what we’re calling it?) for the first time with my buddy, Kevin. I’m impressed. Its speed and seamless integration of real-time and asynchronous text+video chat is fun.

Here are a few bits that delight me:

Your friend is typing…

When a friend begins typing a response to your chat, a push notification informs the recipient.

Other apps use read receipts, notifying users when a friend sees their message. This (as I’ve written about before) can encourage a higher response rate and frequency of communication (see cycle time); however, it can have the opposite effect, discouraging someone from reading a message entirely because they know the person (that they don’t want to speak with) will see they read it. Don’t lie, you know you’ve ignored someone for this very reason before.

Single gesture front/back camera switch

When in a chat, hold down on the circle button to open the camera. When the thumb is resting on the top half of the screen, it uses the back facing camera. If on the bottom, it uses the front facing (selfie-optimized!) camera. Upon release, a photo is captured. Again: speed.

CAMERA ROLL! (now supported)

Until now, every photo shared on Snapchat had to be taken from the camera and shared at that moment. While this is still the case for standard one-to-one-to-many snaps, chat users can now share photos from the camera roll (past photos, screenshots, Instagram photos, etc.). Doodles supported.

This expands the conversation without compromising the “real-timeness” of the traditional Snapchat experience. But more importantly, it avoids giving users an excuse to move the conversation to iMessage or a different messaging app to share party pics from last night.

As with most product evolutions, people are hating on chats but my first impressions are extremely positive. They’re giving people fewer reasons to leave the app, becoming a true tool for communication. This is why Facebook should feel threatened.

P.S. Snapchat me! I’m rrhoover.

A shorter version of this was posted on Product Hunt. #plug ;)

More Writing by Ryan