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Snapchat updates fap-snap sharing app ... now with more Chat

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Self-destructing photo sharing service Snapchat has added real-time messaging and video chat to the latest versions of its mobile apps, in a move seemingly designed to make it more competitive with the likes of BBM and WhatsApp.

Snapchat began life as a way for smartphone users to send each other saucy selfies that automatically delete themselves a few seconds after they're viewed.

The company is so proud of this innovation that its 23-year-old CEO, Evan Spiegel, has reportedly turned down acquisition offers worth as much as $4bn, despite having yet to come up with a revenue model for the service.

Following revelations that Snapchat is neither as private nor secure as its users might hope for, however, the company is now branching out.

"Until today, we felt that Snapchat was missing an important part of conversation: presence," a Snapchat spokesperson said in a blog post on Thursday. "There's nothing like knowing you have the full attention of your friend while you're chatting."

To that end, Snapchat has added a new feature called – aptly enough – Chat. You can now swipe your friends' names in your Snapchat inbox to open a Chat window where you can message each other in real time.

You can also press and hold a friend's name to open a two-way video chat session. When you lift your finger, the session ends.

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True to form, Snapchat is touting the ephemeral nature of such chats, although it's being surprisingly nonchalant about how private the messages might really be.

"When you leave the chat screen, messages viewed by both you and your friend will be cleared," the company's blog post states, "but either of you can always tap or screenshot to save anything you'd like to keep (addresses, to-do lists, etc.)!"

It seems Snapchat – which never guaranteed that you could be sure your naughty pics were actually deleted – now operates on a policy of "deletion by default – you keep what you want, and we'll get rid of everything else!"

That messaging shift doesn't seem to have deterred Snapchat's fans, though. On Thursday, the blog post was accompanied by messages from dozens of would-be users complaining either that Snapchat's in-app upgrade feature didn't work or that the new version wasn't yet available in their app store. ®

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