Facebook Launches Snapchat Rival Called Slingshot

Following an accidental release to a number of countries’ App Stores last week, Facebook today officially announced the launch of Slingshot – a standalone app for iOS and Android which appears to be the social network’s second attempt at a Snapchat competitor after it killed off its first attempt – Poke, earlier this month.

Like Snapchat, Slingshot allows you to quickly and easily share photos and short video clips with your friends. Those photos and videos can be annotated with text and doodles, and once viewed they disappear from the devices they were sent to. However, what makes Slingshot a little different from Snapchat and other similar apps, is that before your friends can view what you just sent them, they have to first “sling” something back. Until they do that, any “shots” received remain pixelated.

Another aspect where Slingshot differs from Snapchat is regards to the duration that a video or photo is viewable for. Rather than disappearing after ten seconds, the content remains on screen until it is swiped away. Of course, one obvious downside to this is that it will be relatively simple for anyone to take a screen capture of an image and save it for ever. Users have thirty days to unlock and view any content sent to them, after that period they are wiped from the device automatically.

Slingshot is the second app to come from Facebook’s Creative Labs division. The first one, a visual news reading app called Paper, was released back in January this year. Given that Facebook reportedly tried to acquire Snapchat for $3bn back in November 2013, the launch of this latest app shouldn’t come as any real surprise. What remains to be seen is whether or not it will do any better than the company’s previous standalone messaging app Poke.

Slingshot is available to download from Google’s Play Store, and Apple’s App Store. Android users need to be running either Jelly Bean or KitKat, while iPhone users need to be running iOS 7. For the time being at least, the app is only available in the US.

We would love to hear what you think about Slingshot. Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below, via your preferred social network, or over on our forums.