1. Computing
Leslie Walker

Snapchat Rolls Out One-Time Replay

By December 21, 2013

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Snapchat released a new iOS version of its disappearing mobile messaging service yesterday. It adds an interesting new feature -- a "replay" button allowing recipients of a message to play it one more time within a 24-hour period before it vanishes.

Snapchat settings
New Snapchat settings

Until now, Snapchat has been designed to send messages that disappear quickly and immediately after they are viewed, unless the recipient takes special measures to try to capture their messages, which does occasionaly happen but is not the norm. (See our Snapchat tutorial for how this popular app works.)

Now Snapchat has introduced a different idea, which is that messages sent with its app can be viewed more than once. One obvious benefit is that if you're distracted while the message is shown the first time, or puzzled by something in it, you can take another quick look. And because Snapchat is offering only one replay, it doesn't seem like the feature will fundamentally alter the nature of Snapchat too much.

Users have to activate the feature because the updated app doesn't come with Replay turned on by default. You can turn it on by clicking the gear icon at the top of your Snapchat screen, going into "Additional Features" and then clicking "Manage."

Once activated, Replay stores a copy of the message and allows recipients to view it again one more time. Instead of disappearing from your message list after you see it the first time, it will remain there. When you click the message again, a message will pop up saying, "Would you like to replay this snap from (sender's name)?" You can only do this once per day. After you view it again, the message is deleted.

Another bonus in the 6.1 iOS update are new filters for photos, which also require activation in the settings under "Additional Features." Swipe the screen to see and apply the new photo filters, which include special visual effects. Also available are a few new "smart filters" that apply the time of day, temperature--and even the speed you were traveling--when the photo was taken as an overlay onto your image.

Further tweaks include a "best friends" revision allowing you to add four extra people to your best buddy list, for a total of seven; and a software "flash" which will illuminate the area in the front of the phones and help brighten shots taken in dark settings.

All in all, this seems like a useful, though minor, update for Snapchat. The app added a more significant feature about two months ago.

Called Snapchat stories, that feature allows senders to string together messages and allows recipients to view them for a full 24-hour period. A Snapchat story can be viewed repeatedly by its recipients within the 24-hour window, allowing messages to be seen many more times than regular Snapchat messages before they disappear.

This repeat viewing characteristic makes Snapchat Stories quite different than the ephemeral nature that defined most messages sent with this mobile app in the first two years since it launched in 2011.

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