October 03, 2013, 2:56 PM — Snapchat is giving photos and videos captured with its app some longevity.
On Thursday the company announced a feature called "Stories," which lets users post their photos and videos to a new section of the app where they will stay for 24 hours. Previously, photos and videos users sent through Snapchat's app appeared for up to 10 seconds, before vanishing and being deleted from Snapchat's servers.
The company has built its brand around ephemeral messaging. But with Stories, the company wants to give users a way to create day-long narratives inside its app. Users' Stories, Snapchat said, contain the photos and videos they took during that day. Each "snap" in the Story includes a list of everyone who viewed it, the company said.
Think of a Story then as being like your Timeline on Facebook, but every day the slate is wiped clean.
In a video advertisement for the feature on its website, Snapchat said "it's about time" that Stories came long.
But Stories represents a new, if not bewildering, direction for the company. It may even be Snapchat's admission that the company's original model around vanishing photos and messages was flawed in certain ways, said Greg Sterling, an industry analyst with Opus Research.
There have been reports, for instance, of people being able to retrieve, albeit in a highly technical way, Snapchat photos that were meant to disappear.
Still, as long as Snapchat keeps its basic functionality preserved, the Stories feature probably won't confuse existing users, Sterling said. "This is a way to try to expand usage and engagement," he said.
And with a platform for photos and videos that don't immediately go bye-bye, Stories may also bring more marketing and advertising opportunities to Snapchat, Sterling said.
Snapchat could not be immediately reached to comment further on the changes.
In a blog post, the company said that the content posted in people's Stories can be shared either with users' friends, or everyone. This probably does not raise any new privacy issues, Opus' Sterling said, as long as people understand that the Stories will exist for 24 hours, and will be more public.
"It has to be made clear to users how this will all work," Sterling said.
The Stories feature will be available as an update to the Snapchat app on iOS and Android-based devices.