What we think
Snapchat is one of the most popular apps in the app markets, and it is easy to see why. Essentially it is a way to share real time, moment-to-moment photos and short videos with friends and family. These images then disappear forever, keeping true to that moment-to-moment feel that the app capitalises on.
It sets it apart from sites like Facebook and Instagram which keep a record of everything, and there is something liberatingly simple about the self-deleting content of Snapchat.
- It’s free
- Very simple
- Great for socialising
- It’s incredibly fun
- Takes up a lot of memory
- Discovery isn’t very good
- Can’t use Snapcash in the UK
- Can be buggy sometimes
Design and features
When you open the app up, it will connect to your phone’s camera and show you the photography interface. It is simple, and intuitive, following the formula of most camera apps. It has a circular touch-button to take the photo, and easy swapping between front and rear facing cameras.
It also includes a flash, utilising either the phone’s LEDs, or the screen, depending on which camera you are using. The selfie flash (using the screen), is a bit lacking, but the rear facing flash is usually fine.
Swiping left or right changes the screens. Left takes you to the Activity Feed screen, where you can see previously sent or received Snaps. Access to Snaps, individual feeds, and chat screens is easy and intuitive, if a bit laggy sometimes. The instant access to the images and videos pushes the moment-to-moment feel of the app.
Alternatively, swiping right takes you to the Stories screen where you can view Snaps that your friends have posted publicly, and which disappear after 24 hours, rather than the usual limit of ten seconds.
Snapchat also has a section called Discover, which combines the instant photo and video sharing of Snapchat with news and up-to-date events. With quite good pre-loading capabilities, the videos that can be seen can link in with news articles, stories, and blogs from various publications.
For example, BuzzFeed have a discover section where you can easily, quickly and smoothly view the highlights that they have put online recently.
I’m a big fan of the design of Snapchat, as it is very simple and easy to use, and, best of all, it is full screen, with no ads etc. in the way.
How does it work?
When you sign up, you need to enter your email address, create a username and password, and enter your birthday. You may then choose to verify your phone number, before proving you are a human by following the on-screen instructions.
You can then add your friends, using your contact list. After this stage you should be taken to the home screen, and are ready to actually use the app.
From here, you can take either photos or videos up to 10 seconds long. You can then preview the photo or video, and add filters, by swiping left or right. Although they can sometimes take a while to load, and there is not as an extensive choice as photo editing apps or Instagram, they can still add a bit of artistic flair to your Snaps.
You can also get contextual filters, such as ones which indicate where you are, the speed you’re moving at, or the time, which set the app aside from other picture-based social media.
Customisation extends to a fairly peeled back and intuitive set of extra actions. You can add text to the image, add an emoji, or draw all over it, via the small menu in the upper right hand corner of the preview screen before sending the Snap off.
One of the major updates to Snapchat in 2015 introduced us to Lenses. Through this, you can overlay your own or your friend’s face with an interactive animation. The facial recognition software is surprisingly precise for the app, and it means you can turn yourself into a scary witch, a rainbow-vomiting, big eyed…. thing, or all manner of other weird options.
Although there was a catch on the old versions (that you had to pay for certain Lenses) this seems to have been removed now, replaced instead by featured Lenses. However, that isn’t to say that the pay scheme will never come back.
Once you are finished with your Snap, you can set how long you want the other person to be able to view it for, from the full ten seconds or just a quick one second peek. You can also save your Snap to your phone’s media gallery, or add it straight to your story.
Snapchat focuses on an in-the-moment tone, more so than Facebook, and even Twitter. This is reflected in how easy they’ve tried to make it to add new people. You can either add them by typing in their username (but that’s boring) or by opening the app to the camera stage, getting them to open their app, and by pointing your camera at their Snapcode.
The Snapcode works in a similar way to a bar code. In the contacts screen, you will see a big Snapchat logo, with the little ghost in the yellow box, and in the yellow box around him is an array of black dots. These are uniquely positioned per account, and when a Snapcode is picked up by a Snapchat camera, the apps automatically add each other to the contact list.
It is really easy and fun to use, and shows a little innovation that has pushed the app just a bit further to make it stand out.
When you receive a Snap, you can screenshot it before it self-destructs, but be warned, the sender will receive a notification telling them what you did! You can also replay it if you hold down the name immediately after watching it the first time.
Although Snapchat may seem a little confusing at first, it is easy to get to grips with, and I’m sure you will love it soon enough.
With more than 100 million downloads on the Android App Store alone, it is an immensely popular app, and it’s easy to see why.
The stats are astonishing, frankly. According to Snapchat’s website, every single day on Snapchat, more than seven billion videos are watched by people around the world. There are also more than 100 million people who actively use Snapchat every day.
Snapchat also claims the app is the best way to reach people between the ages of 13 and 34 years.
Snapchat is definitely worth downloading. It allows me and my friends to share photos and videos easily, as long as we have an internet connection, which is especially good if we happen to be somewhere fun like a concert.
What sets it apart from normal social networking apps that you would share multimedia on is the fact that your Snaps self-destruct after no more than ten seconds (provided they aren’t screenshotted!).
The app is free at the time of writing, probably a major reason that Snapchat is so popular.
Images courtesy of Snapchat