Snapchat launched a new messaging feature on iOS and Android today that enables one-on-one texts, picture messaging, and video chats. This is a major update for Snapchat, as it shifts the app from being a one-way conversation tool into something a bit more real-time.

The goal, it appears, is to fill in the gaps left by Snapchat’s current tools. Previously, turning a Snapchat photo into a conversation would require moving the discussion into another app.

Here’s a look at the new features:

According to Snapchat’s formal release, the company felt that, “until today … Snapchat was missing an important part of conversation: presence. There’s nothing like knowing you have the full attention of your friend while you’re chatting.”

“Swipe right on a friend’s name in your Snapchat inbox to start chatting. When you leave the chat screen, messages viewed by both you and your friend will be cleared – but either of you can always tap or screenshot to save anything you’d like to keep (addresses, to-do lists, etc.)!

We let you know when a friend is Here in your Chat so that you can give each other your full attention. And if you’re both Here, simply press and hold to share live video – and Chat face-to-face!”

This update follows the debut of messaging features in both Instagram and Vine. It’s curious to see all three of the most popular media-centric social apps launch chat functionality in such short succession. All the while, Twitter is reportedly interested in testing group chat features.

But for Snapchat users, this could be quite welcome. Being limited to photos and videos has been annoying — compared with, say, Facebook’s Snapchat clone, Poke, which does let you interact with text.

Sometimes, you just want to respond or engage with someone through words, so thanks, Snapchat.

With that said, it’s clear that Snapchat still views photo and video interactions as the focus of its communications app. In the promo video, Chat actually is used to initiate a video chat between two users — likely what Snapchat is hoping people will use the feature for.

via: The Verge