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Snapchat seeks growth, adds disappearing text messages, video chat

Snapchat, Inc.
You can now use Snapchat to send disappearing text messages and live video chat
With new Chat feature, Snapchat is taking on WhatsApp and other messaging apps

Snapchat, the mobile app that rose to fame for its ability to let users send each other photos and videos that disappear after they’re viewed, has added text messages and video chats to its lineup of ephemeral features.

Now, Snapchat can be used to have text conversations with others, but unlike most other messaging apps, messages sent on Snapchat will vanish after they have been viewed by the recipient. 

To activate the new "Chat" feature, as it is officially called, users swipe right on a friend's name from the inbox portion of the Snapchat app. After that, the messaging can begin. 

"When you leave the chat screen, messages viewed by both you and your friend will be cleared," Snapchat said in a blog post.  

When users are texting, Snapchat will notify them if they are both in the Chat screen at the same time. If they are, users can activate a live video chat session by tapping and holding down a blue icon with a white circle on the screen. 

Snapchat is mobile app that rose to fame for its ability to let users send each other photos and videos that disappear after a few seconds.

The app is believed to have more than 30 million monthly users, and late last year, it reportedly turned down multi-billion acquisition offers from Facebook and Google. 

Text and video chatting are the first major additions to Snapchat since October, when the startup added a feature called "Stories." That feature lets users share their snaps with all their friends for a full 24-hour period. 

Before Thursday's update, users could chat with their friends by adding captions to their photos and videos, but the new Chat feature places Snapchat directly in competition with other messaging apps. Most notable of which is WhatsApp, a messaging app that has more than 450 million users around the world and was purchased by Facebook for $19 billion this year. 

Also in the messaging space are Facebook and Google, with their Messenger and Hangouts apps, respectively. In the last year, Instagram and Vine have also jumped into the space by adding messaging features to their mobile apps. 

Meanwhile, Snapchat's new video chatting feature places it in competition with Apple FaceTime, Skype and other apps that let users make video calls. 

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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