Snapchat will not be outdone. While Google dreams up the next best messaging app and WhatsApp removes its subscription fee, Snapchat seems ready for a refocus, aiming to incorporate phone and video calling and a new interface.

Rumors now suggest that Snapchat is going on the offensive: If the update indeed includes phone and video calling, some big names may turn heads. Namely: Skype, along with Apple’s own FaceTime.

Live audio streaming and interface, plus the creepy "[username] is watching you." [Note: "Snapprefs" is a watermark obscuring actual names, not a part of the update.]

Snapchat already has a live video chat option: if you and your friend are both chatting, the “send chat” button will turn blue. If you both hold that blue button, you’ll live-stream video to each other.

Most people flee the tête-à-tête chatroom the moment the blue icon appears, because the jump from text chatting to video chatting is enormous and tends to break several new-age conventions of etiquette. David Foster Wallace, in 1996, managed to foretell exactly why video interfacing would fail. The current instantiation of the app, in essence, awkwardly hints that users expedite their discussions with video, not acknowledging that no one prefers video chat to other modes of communication.

But this update includes more than just live video chat. The rumors began when a team of Snapchat-obsessed developers dug into the code behind a recent update to the app.

Within the code they found the following:

public enum SnapType {

   SNAP,
   CHATMEDIA,
   AUDIONOTE,
   DISCOVER,
   TEXT,
   STORY_REPLY

}

All of the above “SnapTypes” are familiar — with the exception of “AUDIONOTE.” Looking into the code further, they found some background information for this vague functionality:

    chatAudioNoteRecorder.c.setAudioEncoder(3);
           chatAudioNoteRecorder.c.setAudioChannels(1);
           chatAudioNoteRecorder.c.setAudioSamplingRate(44100);
           chatAudioNoteRecorder.c.setAudioEncodingBitRate(32000);

This code suggests that in the update, you’ll be able to send audio-only messages. (You can already do exactly that within iMessage, and, again, no one does it unless they do it accidentally, but Snapchat thinks it will be handy.) Elsewhere in the virtual mine, the team discovered some code under the bounds of something called ChatV2. There’s a “chat_stream_audio” and a “chat_incoming_video.”

The developers claim that, as with your iPhone, you’ll be able to ignore or join incoming calls and video-stream requests. As opposed to the dreaded blue button, this route will present as less of an imposition and more of an option.

"Are you getting a call?" / "Nope"

Rather than leave the discoveries there, the team went ahead and previewed what the already-in-place (but hidden) code would look like were it live within the app. More apparent discoveries resulted:

While experimenting with it, we noticed how the chat-presence alert has been changed from showing a blue botton [sic] to showing a smiley face, which turns into a blue dot. Also, when someone is listening to you a blue text comes up saying that “XYZ is listening/watching”.

Video calls, audio streaming, and the addition of stickers (at least on some platforms).

While this innovation may be necessary in order for Snapchat to stay afloat, it may not be enough of an upgrade or a unique functionality for any revolutionary changes to result.

Maybe the White House’s inclusion in the fun will do the app good.


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