Facebook releases Poke, its Snapchat clone

poke for facebookEarlier this week, we heard that Facebook was set to introduce its very own Snapchat, the app that allows you to share temporary photos. Now, come week’s end, the social network has announced a clone of the controversial feature with a new product called Poke for iOS.

You probablying remember poking as perhaps the most annoying thing that Facebook allowed you to do – or allowed to be done to you. Now, however, Facebook is resurrecting it and spinning it into a new mechanism that doesn’t just subtly ping you, but sends over a private piece of content with an expiration date.

“With the Poke app, you can poke or send a message, photo, or video to Facebook friends to share what you’re up to in a lightweight way,” says Facebook. “You can poke an individual friend or several at once. Each message expires after a specific time you’ve set, either 1, 3, 5, or 10 seconds. When time runs out, the message disappears from the app.”

Snapchat has only just entered our consciousness and already Facebook is capitalizing on the self-destruct messaging trend. Snapchat has risen to the top 10 free apps in the App Store and captured young users’ interest – in some cases, unfortunately so, as we all by now know there are always ways to save those supposedly secure images. (Hint: screen capture is faster than you think).

poke for facebookFacebook makes no attempt to shield this as anything other than a Snapchat clone. You can manipulate photos before sending them, there’s an alert system so you know if someone took a screenshot, and you get the same timing options. Of course, Poke allows you to send more types of media, and there is a group messaging capability. This could be a death sentence for Snapchat, which, despite its popularity and early rise to the top of the App Store, can’t compete with Facebook’s social graph and the inarguable ease of a client that can offer access to (for many of us) nearly all of our connections.

It will be interesting to see if Facebook ends up folding Poke into its proprietary app. Camera and Messenger started out as standalone apps that worked with, but weren’t embedded in, the original app. These two still exist on their own, but now also within the main Facebook mobile app. It’s been Facebook’s mobile strategy thus far, to build out mobile products and eventually weave their features into Facebook proper. Poke will probably receive the same treatment.