Snapchat could soon expand its range of services to include voice and video calls, according to information picked up by 9to5Google. The leak apparently comes from two developers who found potential for video and audio calls when looking at the code behind a new version of Snapchat. This could mean that the app is lining itself up as a rival of WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook Messenger.
Snapchat is an ephemeral photo- and video-sharing network from which media is automatically wiped shortly after being viewed. After seeing a huge growth in users, Snapchat chiefs announced at the end of 2015 that the service boasts six billion video views per day.
The app also has an instant messaging tool and a relatively limited video chat function, which requires both users to be connected to the app and in the same chat conversation at once. Upgrading this with the ability to call any contact at any time for audio or video chat would make Snapchat a genuine alternative to the likes of Skype, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, especially for teens and young adults who are already fans of the platform. Another potential function, called "Audionote," may be in the pipeline too, bringing dictaphone-style sound recording.
The current reference in the world of instant messaging apps with audio call capabilities is WhatsApp, which became free as of January 2016. WhatsApp, which belongs to Facebook, counts almost one billion users worldwide and could soon expand its functions to include video chat. Facebook also has its widely used Messenger app for chat via text, voice and video.
Microsoft-owned Skype offers instant messaging, file sharing, video chat and voice calls (free to another user or at a reduced rate to any landline or mobile phone number in the world).
Other alternatives exist too, with varying levels of functionality, such as Google Hangouts, Orange's Libon and Chinese messaging platform Line.