Facebook released a new iOS app called Slingshot to select markets on Monday afternoon in its latest attempt to take on emerging competitor Snapchat. Similar to that behemoth self-destructing photo messaging app, which is hugely popular with teenagers, Slingshot encourages you to shoot photos and videos back and forth with your contacts.
You know: Like a slingshot.
Slingshot works like this: You send a photo or video to someone, and she must first sling something back your way before she can open your photo.
The app has many features that overlap with Snapchat, including the ability to draw or type over your photo/video messages and aim your camera either at your face for a selfie or forward. Rather than tout self-destructing messages, however, Slingshot encourages you to “swipe through all the shots you get from your friends.” It also has a feature that allows you to “react” to a friend’s photo with a quick tap, sending a quick shot of your face when you open the message, somewhat like a similar app called Dumbstruck.
With the app’s release, CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg is keeping his promise to "unbundle the big blue app" while also keeping his competitors in check. Zuckerberg attempted to buy Snapchat for about $3 billion in November 2013 but was very publicly snubbed by the company’s 24-year-old frat bro CEO Evan Spiegel. You may also remember that Facebook has already tried to make its own Snapchat competitor, with the now-defunct Facebook Poke app.
According to TechCrunch, which first came across the app, Slingshot is currently only available for iOS in select markets.
We haven’t had a chance to test it out quite yet. Stay tuned for a deeper dive soon.
UPDATE: Looks like the sling was shot too soon. This release was all a mistake, per a Facebook spokesperson: “Earlier today, we accidentally released a version of Slingshot, a new app we’re working on. 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.” Accordingly, the link to the app has been pulled. Guess we’ll have to stick to Snapchat in the meantime.