Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Facebook aims Slingshot at Snapchat

This week Facebook has launched a new app in the US called 'Slingshot' to directly compete with, the picture messaging app, Snapchat. So should the makers of Snapchat be worried?

Snapchat, if you didn't already know, is a free picture and video messaging and sharing app for iOS and Android mostly used by teenagers. Users are able to send pictures and videos they take to their friends, or people who they don't know if they so wish, for a maximum of 10 seconds before the snap is gone to never to be seen again (unless it is replayed - which can be done once every 24 hours). Pictures and 15 second videos sent can have an overlay of filters, text and colourful drawings. The more you snapchat, the higher your snapchat score gets.

Snapchat, sadly, is quite unreliable; its servers have been hacked in the last year leaving thousands of user's data exposed on the internet for anyone to see, it has run into legal issues because of user's ability to screenshot snaps and it has also needed to deal with many complaints over ethics as studies show that many use the app for sexting.

Facebook had an app similar to Snapchat called 'Poke' which was retired earlier this year because it lacked engagement from users. Facebook then offered to buy Snapchat for $3 billion however the company surprisingly declined this. So, Facebook tried again to compete with Snapchat late last year when they added Snapchat like features into 'Instagram' so users could message other users with a photo or video. However this week Facebook has upped their game and have launched a stand-alone app to directly compete with Snapchat as a last effort to drag users away from Snapchat and get them using a Facebook service. This app is called 'Slingshot'.

'Slingshot' is scarily similar to Snapchat in the sense that you take pictures or videos, send them and they disappear after a specified number of seconds however Facebook has done this is an overly complicated way. The app is hard to navigate; users need to swipe all directions for different functions which, frankly, is just irritating however a price you are forced to pay for the stunning animations in the app.

The biggest issue with 'Slingshot' though is that in order to open a message, you need to send one back first which makes conversations very hard as you can't reply to someone if you don't know what they've said. Maybe 'Slingshot' isn't supposed to be a messaging app but more of a feed of temporary updates... which is fine as long as you have something to say yourself or the app will become very boring very quickly.

The only real positive I can find with 'Slingshot' is the 'select all' button which allows you to send your picture or video to all of your contacts at once. This is a feature which Snapchat addicts have been desperate for.

So will Slingshot be able to crush Snapchat - or even steal some of the 30+ million active Snapchat users? The app is very new - it isn't even out in the UK yet - and opinions haven't fully formed however it will only take weeks until we see if Slingshot's attack on Snapchat was a success.

Download 'Slingshot' here: