Facebook teases messaging app Slingshot, a possible rival to Snapchat

Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) is preparing to launch a new application called Slingshot that features messages that disappear quickly, similar to Snapchat. The app, which Facebook initially launched and then unpublished, is the latest from the social networking giant that represents a specialized function apart from Facebook's core app.

On Monday the app was released briefly in the App Store in a few countries, but then Facebook quickly pulled it.

A Facebook representative confirmed to The Verge that the launch was an accident. "Earlier today, we accidentally released a version of Slingshot, a new app we're working on," a Facebook spokesperson said. "With Slingshot, you'll be able to share everyday moments with lots of people at once. It'll be ready soon and we're excited for you to try it out."

According to TechCrunch, which viewed Slingshot before it was pulled, the app is designed to let users share photos and videos by "slinging" that content to others using the service. Meanwhile, according to The Verge, which also got a look at the forthcoming app, before users can "unlock" a friend's message, they must send one back to the original sender. That could be a way to get users to check in on what each other is doing. The Verge also noted that when a user is looking at a message they can tap a "React" button in order to send a reaction back to the sender.

Interestingly, according to TechCrunch, users can annotate images with own captions and drawings. Perhaps most importantly in terms of features, the app lets users view "unlocked" messages later if they are busy when the message arrives. However, once the messages are swiped away, they are erased permanently from the app.

Slingshot is the latest example of Facebook branching out into distinct apps. The company has removed messaging from its main app, pushing users into its standalone Messenger app. It also introduced Paper this winter, an app that is similar in visual style to the news reader Flipboard app, and lets users click through content like status updates, photos and news stories by swiping. Facebook also of course owns Instagram for photo sharing and has bought over-the-top messaging service WhatsApp, which plans to add voice calling to its offering.

"One theme that should be clear from our work on products like Messenger, Groups and Instagram is that our vision for Facebook is to create a set of products that help you share any kind of content you want with any audience you want,"  Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in late January.

Facebook's revenue in the first quarter jumped 72 percent year-over-year to $2.5 billion, with advertising revenue making up $2.27 billion of that. Facebook now gets 59 percent of its advertising revenue from mobile, up from 53 percent the fourth quarter and a huge jump from 30 percent in the year-ago period. Facebook counted 1.01 billion mobile monthly active users as of March 31, an increase of 34 percent year-over-year.

For more:
- see this The Verge article
- see this TechCrunch article

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