Best Picture Chat App: Snapchat
Online chatting has taken a new turn with picture chat. Friends send snapshots to one another that often express more than most 140-character tweets. Some say these apps take sexting to a new level; teens are firing off snapshots using Snapchat in record numbers. Recent estimates have put the number of daily, shared Snapchat photos on par with Instagram — about 5 million a day.
Any app that involves teens, photos and sharing must include a review of safety features. And the makers of Snapchat, pioneers in the picture-chat space, including several safety mechanisms that stand out.
Why we like it
Snapchat has three safety features, plus extras:
Maximum life of seconds: Snaps can be viewed for a very limited time. Once recipients open a picture message sent from Snapchat, they have no more than 10 seconds to view it. Users can set the timer for as little as 1 second.
Limits screenshots: You have to be pretty nimble to take a screenshot in the few seconds that a Snapchat is visible. Plus, a finger must stay in contact with the screen while viewing, which makes taking a screenshot even more difficult. Furthermore, even if you successfully capture the screen, the sender receives an alert that a screenshot was taken.
Saving disabled: Recipients cannot save Snapchats. Senders can save their own photos, but unlike other camera apps, such as Instagram , photos taken within the app are not saved automatically to a phone's camera roll.
Other features: In its most recent update, Snapchat added the ability to draw on a photo with a simple color palette. Users can also send Snapchats to groups of friends that they've set up in the app, as well as individuals. Snapchat can also locate friends on Facebook who use Snapchat, so that you can add them to the app's contact list.
Keep in mind
Snapshot's so-called safety features are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you can feel pretty sure that a photo won't get passed along, but on the other, SnapChat is a hotbed for sharing inappropriate photos. Because photos disappear after a few seconds, users may throw caution to the wind and send photos that they wouldn't otherwise share. If your kids use Snapchat, you may want to talk to them about the consequences — even a momentary picture could be talked about for a long time. Read: Teens Irked by Sexting, Do It Anyway
Snapchat can be fun, and it's free. But it can also be risky, even with built-in safeguards.
- Available for iOS (version 4.0 or later) and Snapchat says an Android version is on the way
- Size is 3.2 MB
- Rated for ages 12+