MENLO PARK, Calif., June 17 (UPI) -- Facebook launched a messaging app called Slingshot, which is like Snapchat expect that users have reply to a message before they can actually view it.
After accidentally releasing the app last week, the Menlo Park-based company officially launched the Snapchat rival Tuesday. Users can add a picture, shoot a 15 second video or take a selfie and add text, emoticons or draw something on it before they sling it to a friend or group of friends. The only catch is that friends can't see the image or video until they send one of their own back to the first user.
The app will be launched across all devices on iOS and Android platforms in the U.S.
Slingshot inventor and Facebook product designer Joey Flynn said that inspiration for the app came from his communications with his brothers in Los Angeles. He said that when he sent pictures to his brothers, they would never reciprocate with pictures or videos of their lives. This missing reciprocation is what led to the development of Slingshot.
Slingshot will be closely monitored to gauge whether users view the reply-to-unlock feature as cumbersome or an innovative way to keep sharing fun content. Facebook seems to have realized that third-party messaging apps have been taking users away from its primary app.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said in the past that the company will now focus on developing a suite of apps that cater to the different social media needs of the user outside the main Facebook app. This strategy has had mixed reactions as the company had to discontinue its Poke app for lack of users and the Paper app isn't doing as well as they had expected.
Snapchat is also an ephemeral messaging app but users do not have to send a picture or video in return for viewing an incoming message. Facebook had offered to purchase Snapchat for $3 billion but were shockingly turned down by the San Francisco-based company.