At its core, Snap has always insisted it was a camera company, but as a mobile-minded generation of users head to work and become more reliant on computers, the parent company of Snapchat has decided it's going to allow people to communicate with their laptops.

“We heard from our community, and saw for ourselves, that for some time now, people of all ages have been spending more and more time on computers, whether it is for working, learning, streaming or just plain browsing,” a Snapchat spokesperson said. “With Snapchat for Web, we’re making it easier for our community to keep conversations going with friends throughout their day from any device.”

The web version will start rolling out on Monday for Snapchat+ subscribers in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, who get access to experimental and pre-release features. Non-subscribers in Australia and New Zealand will also be able to use the feature. Eventually it will be rolled out to more international Snapchat+ users, then eventually all users.
Snapchat’s ephemeral nature has made it popular for quick catch-ups or fleeting moments. By making it easier to have sustained conversations, it could cement it as a generation’s communication tool of choice.
It could also lead to more time spent on the platform, which in turn could lead to higher ad prices. Snapchat has been trying to get people to stay on its service longer by rolling out news products and original series. Making it easier to have screen-to-screen chats could also help that cause. The company is expected to bring in $2.72 billion in ad revenue in the U.S. this year according to eMarketer, or about 1.1 percent of the total U.S. digital ad market.
(Image: Snap)

Snapchat for Web Review

I tested out the new web version of Snapchat with Cheddar News line producer Kara Fellows. Notably, it’s all formatted for vertical video, so if you decided to start your call from the web version and switch to the phone version there wouldn’t be any difference in how the call looks.

What we both noticed was that it seemed a bit more casual than your traditional Zoom or Skype, more akin to using Apple’s FaceTime. It makes sense because the web-version of Snap only allows calls between people who are friends with each other. You don’t get to set a calendar invite or send out a link, so it’s meant for more spontaneous conversation. If you’re like me and have a few friends who you videochat with while doing household chores or go about your day, it seems perfect for those informal calls.

As a bonus, there’s an interface to let you chat and send links without having to click off of the video, which is a common problem when trying to text links and photos while also using FaceTime. Snapchat’s famous image modifying and special effect lenses will be added soon.

For privacy, the computer camera turns off when you switch to a different tab outside of the Snapchat for Web experience. However, it kept going when I opened a new window on my browser. If you try to take a screenshot, your text-based conversation will covered.
Overall, we both decided it wasn’t a gamechanger that would make us want to subscribe to Snapchat+. But if someone used the Snapchat video service while we were near a computer, it would make it easier to pick up that call and keep in touch.