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What Is Snapchat?


Paul Briden

23/04/2018 – 1:34pm

Confused about Snapchat? Jump into our quick guide to bring you up-to-date

Snapchat has been around for a while now. Most likely everyone has heard of it at some point even if only in passing. However, there’s sure to be plenty of people who haven’t explored much past the name. That’s because, truth be told, it’s a bit of a weird app when you start to scratch the surface; a chat app based purely on the premise of sending people photos and videos that are, after a set time, going to disappear. Forever.

When you consider the number of messaging services out there which happily let you send photos and videos to your hearts content, and not only allow the recipient to keep them on their phone, but these days also tend to back them up to the cloud, it makes Snapchat an even weirder idea.

And let’s face it, when you stop and think for a moment about the kind of scenarios where you might NOT want a recipient to keep a photo or video you send; those scenarios are somewhat limited to a very specific kind of activity. One which isn’t exactly family friendly! And yet, Snapchat doesn’t present itself as an adults-only application.

With all that said, you may be surprised to learn that Snapchat has been tweaked and changed a lot over the years, to the point that you can now replay received photos and videos an unlimited number of times and can also screenshot them to save elsewhere. Kinda sounds like the original concept has been neutered, right?

Likewise, your own photos and videos sent to friends and contacts, or broadcast via Snapchat Stories, can be saved to your “Memories” section, or to your handset’s camera roll, for later viewing.

Snapchat was co-founded by Kevin Spiegel and the core idea behind it was to make photo and video messaging temporary to make this kind of digital interaction more natural and free flowing; there is some sense to this, after all, you have a real world conversation with someone and once that moment is gone, it is gone – you can remember it, but that’s about it.

Originally, Snapchat was just about one-on-one photo sharing between friends, but with hot competition from the likes of Instagram, WhatsApp, and others, features have been added over time and there’s now a lot more you can do.

Some examples include video sharing, live video chats and calls, messaging, avatar chat, and Instagram-like “Story” broadcasting to followers. There’s also a bunch of location-based features; you can show your location on a live world map, and create city-specific stickers for your content.

The “Discovery” section also has a similar feel to Instagram’s equivalent, though with an emphasis on content creators such as Buzzfeed and various news outlets.

Getting Started With Snapchat

Opening the Snapchat app puts you in the main screen, which is the Camera screen, showing the view through your camera’s lens. Naturally there’s a capture button, but also keys to take you to various functions including Memories, Chat, and Stories. Therre are also keys to access your Profile screen, the Search function, and for controlling some camera functions such as flash and switching between front and rear cameras.

This is the main screen where you’ll capture “Snaps”, either tap the capture key for a photo, or hold press for a video. Once captured you’ll see a prompt to save either to your camera roll, Memories, send to a friend, or add to your Story.

Of course at this point you can also edit the image or video with filters, effects, lenses, text, stickers, doodles, links and much more besides…if you’re into that sort of thing. You can also adjust the time it’ll take before the Snap expires, from a few seconds to “unlimited”.

Snap Map

A major feature of Snapchat is the Snap Map, which is accessed from the Camera screen with a pinch to zoom gesture. This presents you with a live world map showing your location, as well as the location of anyone you follow. Of course, you and anyone you’re following can opt-out of the real-time tracking by going into settings and toggling “ghost mode” on.

In this mode you’ll also see Stories from users in various global locations, including gigs, concerts, festivals, exhibits and more.

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