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Instead of left- or right-hand anchored menus, Snapchat has users swipe to access other elements of the service.For instance, from the camera, swipe to the right and the chat screen will appear, swipe down and your account preferences will drop in, and swipe left to view other users’ snaps.
At the top right, you’ll see a sticker icon, which yields a bunch of emoji-like graphics you can use to gussy up your image. If you’re not in love with the default sans serif font in a gray bar across your photos, tap the text icon again, and you get more options.(Custom-made geo-filters for festivities like weddings are all the rage these days.) Alternatively, before you take a photo, press and hold on a person’s face and Snapchat’s lens options will pop up.This hugely entertaining feature maps out the face (or faces) on screen, and can apply animations and other graphics to the mug.The philosophy behind this unconventional landing place is that chats all begin with the conversation, and in Snapchat, images do the talking.That makes even more sense when you think of how the app treats its photos and videos ephemerally.From dogs wearing glasses to carnival mirror-type contortions, there’s always something new to see.
And through some slick promotions, the app frequently cycles in new lenses to play with based on popular movies and shows.
To the 310 million monthly active Snapchat users, many of whom are in their teens and early 20s: Sorry, but old people are about to crash your party. And that is exactly why the app is exploding in use, even recently overtaking Twitter in terms of daily users.
(I’m not even 40, and I’m one of them.) To the hip kids who have grown up with the four-year-old short video sharing app: It is with regrets that admittedly I may even incorrectly explain some of how this service—with its myriad of odd features—works. A social network where people share photos and short videos for just 24 hours, Snapchat is the answer to the Internet’s problem of never forgetting.
(You can also swipe left one more time for the “Discover” screen, which displays stories by media entities like ESPN, CNN, and People, also a Time Inc.
publication.) Sure, there are also buttons you can press to reach these screens (the bottom-left square for your chats, the top-center ghost for your account, and the bottom-right hamburger menu for your stories), but kids these days swipe their Snapchat like it’s Tinder—another app you’re probably too old to be using.
Just as spoken words only hang in the air long enough for ears to hear them, these images last just long enough to be seen (or more accurately, for 24 hours) and then they disappear.