The Pros and Cons of the Snapchat Update

May 09, 2014 / by / 13 Comments

Last week, Snapchat launched a platform-changing update. Rolled out via a special six-part, 60-second snapchat, the new update introduced two unique changes: an instant messaging system and live video chatting (a la Apple’s FaceTime).

While some have already likely made the jump to this “New” Snapchat, others may still be on the fence – continually ignoring update requests like the technological plague. For those people, we’ve compiled a lists of pros and cons about the update so that you can decide if you’re ready to make the jump.

Pro: The Entire Portfolio of Sexting Tools Is Now at Your Fingertips

Regardless of what the Snapchat founders may say about “connecting communities” or “disrupting the social media space,” we all know Snapchat was created for one reason: to send people pictures of your sex parts. The concept is so fundamentally built into the system that there’s even a warning sent when someone takes a screenshot. I can think of about 8 situations in which I would want a picture I voluntarily sent to never exists beyond 10 seconds, and 7 of those involve naked parts.

However, because of its simple interface and design, Snapchat seemed to be missing something. There was plenty of “snap” but very little chat, with a 50(ish) character limit preventing any real commentary on the aforementioned naked pictures. With this new update, that problem is resolved. Now you can send your naked pictures the way God intended – with long, crude messages and/or Pablo Neruda poems.

Con: The Expectation of Real Conversation

Snapchat is the go-to messaging system for people who want to keep in contact with friends and/or potential hook-up buddies without doing anything that merits real interaction. However, this new update changes that. Though most people will likely continue to use Snapchat exclusively for sexting and drunk selfies, the addition of an actual messaging platform and live video chat means that you may be forced into a situation in which you have to have real conversation with someone on Snapchat.

While this may not sound horrible to some, imagine this situation: it’s 1am on a Friday night. You’re drunk and trying to find a hook-up for the night. While on Snapchat, you suddenly receive an instant message from someone. It’s long and emotional – and they know you’ve seen it. Now you’re roped into this sordid emotional affair for the rest of the night.

With pre-update Snapchat, conversation depth was pretty much, well, non-existent. Now, any person can turn a selfie into a full-blown emotional dialogue – and that’s just not what you want when you’re on Snapchat.

Pro: Snapchatting Stored Photos

With Snapchat’s new update, you can edit, color, and send pictures that you already have stored on your phone. This means being able to reuse that “perfect” selfie you took several months back, or turning a pleasant photo of a friend into a perfectly reprehensible snapchat. The most exciting feature? No. Useful? Definitely.

Con: Snapchatting Stored Photos

Yes, this is both a pro and a con.

Despite the potential usefulness of being able to share stored photos, many have come out against this portion of the update, claiming it defeats Snapchat’s original purpose of sharing moments in real-time. The point is a valid one, especially since there is no way to know if a picture shared was from a stored photo or an original photo just taken. This means people will now be able to lie about what they’re doing and pass off staged photos as candid moments.

Part of Snapchat’s original appeal was the assumption of spontaneity. With this update, that idea is certainly at risk.

Con: Functionality

While Snapchat’s update has revolutionized its platform and made it a feasible competitor against social media sites like Facebook, it does face one major problem: It doesn’t fully work yet. Across app stores, people are ranting about problems with the update. From issues with starting a video chat to the inability to reply to Snapchat pictures, the new update has caused problems across the platform – even within areas untouched by the update.

Unfortunately for Snapchat, its attempt to make this update into a major event will likely be held back by the months they will spend fixing the bugs within it. Yes, it’s cool that they’ve done so much to move their platform forward, but without functionality it means nothing. It’s like giving a kid a Christmas present, then telling them they won’t be able to use it for two months. It’s exciting to have the present, but those months of waiting are definitely going to kill some of the fun of it once it can fully be used.

Pro: It’s Something New

For all of the issues and potential setbacks with Snapchat’s update, there is one major positive that can’t be refuted: they’re breaking new ground. While the majority of social networking sites and apps have been spending their time trying to find ways to monetize their products and integrate advertising (no matter how ill-suited for their platforms), Snapchat has clearly been trying to make something exciting and take their product new places. It may not be entirely functional yet, and it may be slightly different than the original app, but it’s inventive and shows their dedication to making Snapchat all it can be.

In a world where social media sites are viewing their users more as capital than as people, it’s nice to see a company invested in creating a fun and exciting user experience.