The goal is to give users the freedom to switch between their phones and computers, all while continuing their conversations on the platform. But the new desktop option could also help Snapchat take on a surprising rival: Zoom.
While Snapchat is known for letting users send disappearing chats and photos, instant calls, video calls have become a popular feature of the app, according to the company. Snapchat said its app hosts more than 100 million video calls each month with up to 15 participants each. Now the service will be easier and more enjoyable to use when people join those calls from a desktop computer.
The idea is similar to video calling services like Zoom, which exploded in popularity during the pandemic, but with some unique Snapchat selling points. Users will be able to initiate calls more quickly and easily because they are already connected with friends and can see when others are online, according to the company.
Snapchat’s signature photo lenses, which can make users appear to have dog ears, freckles or other features, will also soon be available for video calls on the web.
As with 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 recent conversations with friends, where they can open snaps or start a chat.
The web version won’t include all the features of the mobile app, such as the “Instant Map” where users can track their friends or the discover section, at least to start, according to the company.
“With so many in 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 the day,” said a Snap spokesperson.
To protect users’ safety and privacy, Snapchat for web prohibits users from taking screenshots of chats or snapshots (the app alerts users if someone captures their chat or photo). The company also created a “privacy screen” to hide the Snapchat window if users click on it.
The launch comes as Snap, Snapchat’s parent company, has been hit on Wall Street after posting a larger-than-expected loss in its most recent earnings report and then warning investors that it had cut its upcoming quarterly forecast due to the worsening economy. Shares of Snap, which will report second-quarter earnings later this week, have fallen 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 per 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.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.