Update 6-17-2014: While we’ve already caught a glimpse of Facebook’s Snapchat competitor, called Slingshot, when the social networking giant accidentally released (and then pulled) it on the iTunes App Store in select countries on June 9, 2014, the company has now made its latest standalone app official. Like the popular Snapchat, users can post photos and short videos that automatically disappear over time. Slingshot is the second app created by Facebook Creative Labs, after Paper, and is the company’s response after Snapchat rejected Facebook’s buyout offer. The app is available for iOS and Android.
The app looks a lot like Snapchat and offers users the same ability to take pictures or videos, send them along quickly to their friends, and then draw on them or add text to take the photo message up a notch. In order for the recipient to unlock the message you “sling,” there’s a catch – they have to send one back to you first. You can send the message to one person or many people at the same time. The photos will disappear shortly after they are viewed, so no harm, no foul if you’ve sent something a bit risqué. (Whether it’s truly deleted, remains to be seen, a la Snapchat.)
Facebook is treating Slingshot as an independent app that operates separately from the Facebook universe, and doesn’t require you to have a Facebook account – similar to Instagram. Slingshot is also Facebook’s second attempt at competing with Snapchat, after its Poke messaging app failed to catch on with users.
For what it’s worth, Slingshot looks simple and well designed. That said, it’s clearly a Snapchat imitator and doesn’t appear to add anything new to the mix, other than the required response, for which Slingshot will be either loved or hated.
“Slingshot lets you quickly share moments – little and big – with all your friends,” Facebook explained in the iTunes store description. “Shoot a photo or video of what you’re up to and sling it to a bunch of people. They won’t be able to see your shot until they sling something back. Tap on a shot to react, or simply swipe it away.”
After a brief description of the app’s features, Facebook made a a little joke, pun very clearly intended: “Download now and give it a, uh, shot.”
(This article was originally published on June 9, 2014)