Snapchat’s messaging and video chat features are no longer limited to just the mobile app. More than a decade after the Snapchat app first launched, company is introducing Snapchat for Web, a new browser-based version of its service.
Snapchat+ subscribers will gain access to the new web app first, but will eventually it will be available to all of the users. It will support messaging and video calling for now, though the company plans to add support for its augmented reality lenses and the ability to send photo and video Snaps “soon.”
Snap also tried to build some of its signature privacy features into the web version. For example, it will block screenshot attempts it’s able to detect, like those taken with keyboard shortcuts. The company also added a “privacy screen” that blocks the contents of users' chats if they click away into a separate window.
It’s not the first time Snap has experimented with desktop or browser-based features. The company previously made some viewable on web browsers, and brought its AR effects to the desktop with its. But it is the first time some of Snapchat’s core messaging features will be available to users outside of the mobile app.
The change could help Snapchat increase engagement with its most dedicated users. A Snap spokesperson noted that video calling has become more popular among Snapchat users in recent years, and that a desktop experience can be more conducive to longer video calls. It could also help Snap replicate the experience of apps like Discord where teens tend to use chats as places to hang out while doing other online activities.
Notably, there are no ads or other revenue-generating features in Snapchat for Web, though a spokesperson said the company could eventually bring other aspects of the mobile app to the browser version of the service — if there’s enough demand.