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Snapchat updates to include instant message, video, while the messaging app market heats up.

The war is on. Facebook and Whatsapp have some competition to look forward to. Recently, Snapchat added new features to its app (Android, iOS), beefing up its social flexibility. What’s new? Well, users can converse via both mobile text messaging and video chat, creating a new layer of depth in socializing.

Snapchat team said in a blog post, “we felt that Snapchat was missing an important part of conversation: presence. There’s nothing like knowing you’ve the full attention of your friend while you’re chatting.”

The new feature, simply named “Chat”, will allow users to send messages and pictures via text conversations, rather than just the 45-character limit that was set for the original snap feature. To select contacts and start the conversation, the user just needs to right-swipe the name in the inbox to start chatting. Much like the photos and videos sent messages that have been viewed by a user and their friend will be erased once they leave the chat screen. However, there is still an option for users to save any of the messages that have been sent or received.

When a friend is active, the user will also have to option for live video chat. A user can hold down the button for a live video feed in the chat. They can let go of the button to end the transmission on their end.

The app’s interface has also gotten a major overhaul. Everything has a more polished feel. Camera quality, which was previously lower (intentionally), has been improved for the inclusion of live video chat. There is also an option for users to upload images from their camera roll, which wasn’t allowed in previous versions (they had to be taken on the spot).

Snapchat’s continuing expansion will likely keep the app on its toes in a very competitive market of social tools, especially when competitors like Facebook are doing the same. With the acquisition of the Whatsapp messaging service, Facebook is looking to engage users in fresh ways. In fact, messaging is on the rise, with many apps, such as Instagram, adding the feature.

Facebook plans to make their own messaging separate from their main mobile app, meaning that users will need to download the messenger in order to chat with their friends. Will this mean that more emphasis will be placed on messaging? Where will Snapchat stand in the heated competition?

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