Snapchat released a new version of its app yesterday — one that allows not only disappearing text messaging but a nifty, two-way video chat function. (It's a little hard to explain, but the Verge's demo video is good.) Essentially, the update changes Snapchat from being a lo-fi, single-function, disappearing-photo sharing app to a robust, multi-use communication platform that could, theoretically, replace things like FaceTime, Skype, and text messaging.
I'm too old to get excited about Snapchat updates, or to know anyone who does. But at least one high school teacher says that the update caused pandemonium among her students.
Business Insider flagged this tweet from Tracie Schroeder, a high school science teacher in Kansas.
In 16 years of teaching I can't think of anything that has ever disrupted my classroom more than today's @snapchat update.— Tracie Schroeder (@bravesearth) May 1, 2014
Schroeder told Business Insider that while she's usually "pretty lenient" about students using phones sparingly in class, yesterday's Snapchat update was too much to handle:
Today was the first day in a long time I actually took phones away. I have no idea what all was included in the update, but you would have thought it was crack. They seriously could not keep away from it. I even had one girl crawl under the table with her phone.
At that point I took all the phones away and we had a little reminder chat about when it was appropriate to use your phone and when it was not. Also that it was rarely appropriate to hide under the table.
(Actually, this should be a new metric for upstart social networks. "Well, Mr. Andreessen, we only had 100,000 sign-ups last quarter, but 30 percent of those crawled under a piece of furniture to download our app.")
After it spurned a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook, Snapchat was mocked for not having an independent long-term growth strategy. (And, indeed, it's a little silly to hear co-founder Evan Spiegel, who is 23, talk about his "25-year plan for the company.") But I give Spiegel and his team credit for pushing forward with new features that are intended to broaden the app's appeal beyond a teenage audience, and potentially knock some rivals out of competition.
Anyway, if what happened with Yik Yak is any indication, the new Snapchat will quickly be put to use spreading gossip, mocking the loser crowd, and generally ruining already fragile adolescent lives. But at least those life-ruining messages will disappear after ten seconds. So that's something?