New York (CNN Business) — Unlike many other social platforms, Snapchat has been available only on mobile since its launch more than a decade ago. But on Monday, the company launched a web-based version of its popular messaging app.
The goal is to give users the freedom to switch between their phones and computers, without missing out on their conversations on the platform. But the new desktop option could also help Snapchat win against a surprising rival: Zoom.
Although Snapchat is known for allowing users to send disappearing chats and photos, called snaps, video calls have become a popular feature of the app, according to the company. Snapchat says its app hosts more than 100 million video calls a month with up to 15 participants each.
Now, he hopes that service will be easier and more enjoyable to use when people join those calls from the desktop app.
The idea is similar to video calling services like Zoom, which gained popularity during the pandemic, but with some features unique to Snapchat. Users will be able to initiate calls more quickly and easily because they are already connected to their friends and can see when others are online, according to the company. Snapchat’s signature filters, which can make users appear to have dog ears, freckles or other features, will also be available for video calls on the web version.
Just like the app, the web version of Snapchat opens directly to the camera to encourage users to send photos to their friends. In a sidebar, users will see a list of their friends’ recent conversations, where they can open snaps or start a chat. The web version will not include all the features of the mobile app, such as the “Snap Map” where users can follow their friends, or the discovery section, at least initially, according to the company.
“With so many of our community spending more time online, whether it’s learning or working remotely, streaming or just browsing, we saw a great opportunity to make it easier for our community to stay connected throughout their day” a spokesperson for Snap, the app’s parent company, said in a statement.
To protect users’ safety and privacy, Snapchat for the web prohibits users from taking screenshots of chats or snaps (the app notifies users if someone takes a screenshot of their chat or photo). The company also created a “privacy screen” to hide the Snapchat window if users click on it.
The launch comes at a time when Snap, Snapchat’s parent company, has been hit on Wall Street after posting a bigger-than-expected loss in its latest earnings report and later warning investors it had cut its upcoming forecasts. quarterly due to the worsening of the economy. Snap will report second-quarter results this week. Shares have plunged 70% since the start of this year.
Last month, Snap introduced a new paid subscription service called Snapchat+ with the potential to boost its revenue. The web version may be a draw for the new $3.99/month subscription option. At launch, the web version of Snapchat will be available to all users in Australia and New Zealand and to Snapchat+ users in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada. The service will soon be extended to Snapchat+ subscribers in France, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.