For a long time, Snapchat has only been good for sending picture messages back and forth, with a self-destruct timer attached. That's great and all, but it is fairly limited and considering people can always take screenshots of your pictures, that picture you sent will speak a thousand words seemingly forever. Instead of lock that down in their latest update though, Snapchat is embracing this side of things and now offering IM chatting and video calls to their app.
A little confusing to explain, IMs are the simplest part of this latest update here. Simply swipe on a contact's name to start a conversation with them. Your contacts view is now arranged like conversations, just as they are in Hangouts for instance. These instant messages still have the ephemeral side of things to them that makes Snapchat, Snapchat as they disappear as soon as you leave the conversation.
Video calling in the new update is a little convoluted, but becomes straightforward once you get used to it. When you're a video call with a contact, you can hold your thumb at the bottom of the display to show your face, and then slide up to the top to swap to the rear camera, allowing your friend to see where you are, or what you're looking at. Screenshots can be taken during these calls by simply tapping and the whole app retains its speed even during video calls.
Adding new features like these clearly brings Snapchat into competition with WhatsApp, Skype, Hangouts and everyone else really. It does so by keeping a little of what makes Snapchat so appealing in the first place as well. Hopefully, the team behind the app have learned from previous security errors and the app will continue to be safe no matter how they use it. The addition of video calls is a pretty nice new feature, and could knock one more app from people's phones now Snapchat offers a wider range of services. As of writing, the update has yet to go live in the Play Store, but we will update this post when it does.