Who needs another disappearing message app? You might, once you try Clipchat. At first glance, Clipchat appears to be just another Snapchat clone, but a closer look reveals it has more to offer in the way of privacy.
And while kids often seem oblivious to privacy concerns, parents have had good reason to worry. Snapchat took the teen world by storm with its messaging service that lets users take a photo or a brief video and send it to their friends, knowing the snap would disappear in 10 seconds or less.
But screenshots were child's play to take, which meant a message could be saved to a quick-fingered recipient's phone and then passed around. [See also: 15-year-old Girl Explains Snapchat ]
Clipchat makes it just as easy to take photos and videos and send them to friends as Snapchat does, but the new app also offers several important safeguards. Clips are limited to five seconds, half the maximum length of a snap, and arrive as pixelated images. Users must touch and hold the screen to see the multi-colored squares resolve into a crisp image. (See too much skin tone? Inappropriate messages can be deleted without opening.)
Privacy features compared
But Clipchat does more than Snapchat to prevent screenshots. Snapchat alerts the sender when someone takes a screenshot, but by then it's too late to do much about it. Clipchat not only sends a message when a screenshot attempt is made, but the screen turns black to foil the capture attempt.
Both services offer the option of friends-only privacy settings, as opposed to having a public account. However, Clipchat has placed its friend control buttons under each incoming message. When you go to your inbox to view your clips, simply tap on the sender's name to open a bar that lets you reply, add as a friend, block that person or report the sender for inappropriate or offensive content . In Snapchat, you'll have to go to your contact list, open a gear icon and decide to delete or block from the dropdown — no reporting mechanism is available.
Sharing option discourages secrecy
While Clipchat creator Iddiction, the same group that launched "I'd Cap That" and "FaceSwap" apps, has included more robust privacy features, the app maker is also taking a page from Instagram and has made group sharing possible. While this may seem at odds with disappearing messages, integrating a stream that includes shared clips could help avoid the secrecy of Snapchat.
Once you've accumulated three friends (Clipchat syncs with your contacts and searches Facebook for others who use the app), you can activate your Clipchat Feed. Each time you send a clip, you'll have the option to share it to your feed, which is visible to your Clipchat friends.
Clipchat is without doubt a better app — it's all of Snapchat and more — but despite its advantages, Clipchat faces a tough battle to win over users who seem more than happy with Snapchat. When I asked my 15-year-old daughter to try Clipchat, she said, "Who am I going to send it to — myself?"
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