June 17, 2014 1:58 pm

Facebook launches ‘Slingshot’ app, for real this time

Facebook launched its new messaging app “Slingshot” Tuesday, just a week after it released the Snapchat-lookalike to the App Store by accident.

Screenshot/Facebook

UPDATE (June 25): Canadian users are now able to download Facebook’s Slingshot app for iOS or Android.

TORONTO – Facebook launched its new messaging app “Slingshot” Tuesday, just a week after it released the Snapchat look-alike to the App Store by accident.

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Slingshot allows users to send photos or videos up to 15 seconds long – but, just like instant messaging competitor Snapchat’s app, the images disappear once viewed by the recipient. 

Yet unlike Snapchat, Facebook’s newest messaging app forces user to share more. Users are required to respond with an image or video in order to “unlock” their friend’s “Sling.” Users don’t need a Facebook account to use Slingshot either; the account is tied to the user’s cellphone number.

Users got a sneak peek at the app last week after Facebook accidently released it to Apple’s App Store for a brief period of time.

The app has been pegged as Facebook’s attempt to overthrow Snapchat, which has seen massive success in the mobile messaging category. Users send over 400 million “snaps” per day, which makes it a fierce competitor for Facebook’s Messenger app.

And Facebook has a competitive past with the app.

In December 2012 Facebook released an app called “Poke” that mimicked Snapchat’s self-destructing photo feature. But the app tanked and was pulled from the App Store a year later.

In 2013, it was reported that Snapchat turned down a US$3-billion takeover bid from Facebook.

Then in February, Facebook purchased WhatsApp, another popular messaging app, for US$19 billion.

But according to a report by Mashable, Slingshot has a few features that make it stand out from Snapchat.

Snapchat became famous for its photos that vanish after 10 seconds, and though Slingshot will also delete messages after the user views them, there isn’t a set time period before the photo or video disappears.

As Mashable’s Kurt Wagner points out, this means users can take a screenshot of the image in order to save it and, unlike Snapchat, users will not be notified that their image was saved.

The app will be released to both Google Play and the App Store for U.S. users Tuesday.

It is unclear when Slingshot will be available to Canadian users.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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