Snapchat has unveiled a major overhaul to its popular disappearing photo app.
The Venice startup announced Thursday that it has redesigned to add text messaging and video chat.
The update, which is not yet available for download in the Google Play and Apple App stores, lets users swipe right on a friend’s name to start sending text messages. The texts disappear once the chat session has ended unless someone taps on a specific message to save it. If two people are in the chat field at the same time, a blue box appears indicating that they can share video messages or chat face-to-face.
“We felt that Snapchat was missing an important part of conversation: presence,” the company announced in a blog post. “There’s nothing like knowing you have the full attention of your friend while you’re chatting.”
The update is part of the evolution of Snapchat from a photo app with a gimmick to a full-service messaging tool.
The company, founded in 2011 by Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy while they were students at Stanford, has quickly grown from a small team on the Venice boardwalk to one of the darlings of the startup community, luring top talent from Silicon Valley tech giants to grow its now 70-person staff and stunning many when it turned down Facebook’s $3 billion acquisition offer.
Snapchat raised a $50 million round in December from Coatue Management, bringing its total funding to $123 million since 2012.