Apple is reportedly working on its own Snapchat clone. It would join companies like Twitter and Facebook who are furiously trying to copy the features that have made the image and video sharing app popular with younger users. Young people are important, sure, but where Apple is uniquely positioned to succeed is in building a Snapchat for text-addicted old people like me.
What better way to keep old people like me chatting with friends inside the Apple ecosystem than to build features directly into iMessage?! It’s kind of genius. Instagram has already showed that serving up Snapchat-style features to an already devoted user base can work. And with all of the new features coming to the Messages app in iOS 10, it makes total sense that Apple might try a similar tack.
The new report comes from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman and Alex Webb, who claim that Apple is preparing Snapchat-like video and image editing features, as well as a social networking component, to be launched sometime next year. The features might be a standalone app or work directly within its existing camera app. Regardless of what shape it takes, iMessage integration seems obvious.
The software is currently being designed to be used mostly with one hand and with the intention that video could be shot, edited, and uploaded in less than 1 minute, the people said. At least one of the prototype designs for the app would shoot video in an Instagram-like square shape, one of the people said.
Bloomberg paints the effort as just another way Apple is trying its hand at getting more social. Apple’s past forays into social networking (remember Ping?) haven’t always worked. Where it has had some success in the space is with iMessage, which is basically SMS elevated to the level of low-impact social network. I’m in plenty of group-texts with people I don’t know, whose phone numbers I don’t have. Our connection is iMessage.
Apple knows that it’s got people locked in to using the Messages app, and the iOS 10 update will already integrate features from other social networks, like stickers and text effects. Why not ape Snapchat at the same time? It’s easy to imagine quickly taking a photo or video, adding some doodles or text and then seamlessly sending it to a friend over iMessage.
For now, it’s unclear if these new features will materialise at all. But it seems clear that it would be deeply integrated into iOS, and that it would be built to work with Apple’s immensely popular iMessage platform. Moreover, expanding the reach of Messages to include one-handed photo and video sharing — with filters and drawings — could be compelling for a lot of people who are already using iMessage and don’t want to bother with Snapchat.
Consider that the reason Instagram Stories has already been so successful is because 500 million people are already using Instagram. Personally, I’m seeing and creating Instagram Stories all the time because I’m always in Instagram. Inertia wins over Snapchat’s geofilters.
But then, I’m over 30 and thus old. I don’t have the time or desire to live inside multiple chatting apps every day, I have things to do and wine to drink. I don’t already live on Snapchat and neither do my friends, so I’m not about to start using it.
Apple won’t necessarily win over the kids with a Snapchat clone, but baking the features that make Snapchat so addictive into its apps and operating system would keep people like me even more reliant on Apple’s ecosystem. Done correctly, it could keep me from ever switching to Android. And more importantly, I would finally be able to doodle on the images I send to my friends, just like the teens do.
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