The picture-messaging app Snapchat's astounding growth over the past six weeks — from 20 million to 50 million photos uploaded each day — may take another big leap. The app has added video sharing to its repertoire. And just like photos, user videos "self-destruct" in 10 seconds or less once they've been viewed.
Snapchat is all about split-second timing. Users snap a photo and decide how long the message will be visible once a recipient has opened it — as short as a single second or as long as 10 seconds. Video can only be 10 seconds in length. To make the process as quick as possible, users press the same button in the app as they would to snap a photo, but hold it down a bit longer to start recording, which means no toggling between photo and video like iPhone users do in their camera app.
The update Phantom 4.0 also includes landscape mode and a new settings page to choose who can send Snaps to a user — users can either designate everyone, or just those whom the user has added to their friend list.
The explosive success or Snapchat has not gone unnoticed. Vidburn is awaiting Apple approval for its own app, which will likely be available this week. Vidburn offers the same self-destructing style videos (no photos), but they are only 5 seconds in length.
Facebook could soon enter the fray. The social networking giant is expected to release a video-sharing feature of its own in a matter of weeks, according to news site AllThingsD.
While Snapchat has faced criticism as an app that makes it far too easy for kids to send sexts and other inappropriate messages, it's a relatively small target compared with Facebook. If the latter launches a disappearing message service, it could face far more scrutiny.