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Snapchat, Windows Phone and what you need to know

After getting our unofficial Instagram app for Windows Phone, people’s eyes turned the next big thing in social media: Snapchat (www.snapchat.com). For those who don’t know (and who are over 25), Snapchat is a new messaging service that’s super popular on iOS and Android.

It’s trick? Photos you send auto-delete themselves after a set amount of seconds.  And yes, it’s coming to Windows Phone--unofficially and officially.

Quick back story

Snapchat

Much like Instagram, Snapchat relies on private APIs that controlled by the developers of the service. In theory, they could open it up to third-party developers, but like Instagram they want to control the experience. Part of that experience is disabling screen-captures of expiring photos—after all, that defeats the whole purpose. Indeed on iOS and Android, if you screen-cap the pic, it will tell the other person that you did.

While iOS and Android both have official clients, Windows Phone is on the sidelines, again. But that's all about to change.

The Unofficial Version(s)

Swapchat for Windows Phone

First look: Swapchat for Windows Phone

We can tell you definitively that there are currently two groups of developers working on Snapchat for Windows Phone. How? Like Instagram, APIs can be cracked and it’s not exactly too hard to do so for such a simple service.

One of those in development is Swapchat, made by two developers under SRC Apps. The app is in private beta now and it works, basically, as advertised. You can register, add contacts and yes, send photos (if the other party is on iOS and Android, it will notify you that they screen cap’d the image, but not vice versa). Notifications don't yet work, but we'll chalk that up to being a beta.

We won’t review the app now for obvious reasons but in short, we’re impressed with it. It’s sharp, fast and Modern UI fans will love it. In other words, it has huge potential and it is the real deal.

The second project we can’t reveal too much about since the developer has not yet gone public. Though when they do, you’ll be familiar with the high-profile indie developer as he/she has been in our news a lot, lately. Needless to say, we'll give you the first look as soon as we can.

So that’s currently what we know. There are at least two indie Snapchat projects going on with and ETA within in the coming weeks. Which will be better? We're excited to find out.

The Official Version (aka now for the big guns)

Nokia Camera

We’ve heard from various sources that an official Snapchat app is due to land on Windows Phone around mid to late July, to coincide with another high-profile Nokia announcement (think of a certain phone we’ve talked about today).

We’re not sure if this will be a Nokia-exclusive or another case of Nokia working with the developers behind Snapchat to best optimize it, much like WhatsApp and Foursquare, but we’re told that this is a “10” on the scale of accuracy. Though we still need to give it a "9" on our rum'o'meter since we haven't seen it ourselves yet:

The revelation that Snapchat is coming probably shouldn’t be too much of a surprise as the company themselves confirmed two-months ago that they were meeting with Microsoft to make sure that Redmond  “can support our vision”.

It now appears that things worked out with the app is nearing completion. And if not? Windows Phone users will still have unofficial, highly polished versions available shortly.

Stay tuned.

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

202 Comments
  • Swapchat is a nice app so far. Can't wait to see how they (Snapchat x Nokia) do the official version when it hits. 
  • I'm liking the sound of Swapchat better than an official snapchat... (lack of screen cap notification)
     
    If you know what i mean..... ;)
  • Don't do that to people.
  • Then don't send those pics...
  • But that's why Snapchat exists...so people would be more comfortable sending those pics. 
  • Still.... "then don't send those pics...." This is cyberspace remember. There's a fine line between love and hate, and the short steps it takes to exact revenge using said services. I have spoken.
  • just before I looked at the paycheck that said $4045, I didnt believe ...that...my friend woz like actually bringing home money in there spare time on their apple labtop.. there aunts neighbour had bean doing this for under 9 months and resantly cleard the mortgage on there cottage and purchased a great new Renault 4. go to, QUE99.COMONLY  
  • Snapchat has been busted on both Android and iOS. It's simply not a secure way to show friends pics you don't want them keeping.
  • of course. I find the whole concept stupid. What's stopping someone from taking a photo of the smartphone displaying the "secret" image. If your eyes can see it you can keep it and no security measure can prevent that
  • Exactly... the whole concept seems to be to give a false sense of security top young, gullible people so that they will send inappropriate pics of themselves (why else would you want a picture to "expire"?).  You cannot send those pics over the internet and have any sense of "security" about it that they will not leak... there are infinite ways to accomplish it.
     
    Just pathetic.
  • just take a screen shot, all pictures is never secure
  • Is this the new rule where you comment in Daniel's articles in order to kill "firssssst" comments? ;)
  • Lol
  • Meanwhile 2014 and no official app...and the third party ones have been removed...
  • Awesome. All the big apps are coming out. Waze and now this.
  • An official Instagram would seal the deal.
  • Not happy with Instance? Or just wanting the official app?
  • seems like he doesn't know instance is great
  • Or maybe he doesn't want to pay money for an app that he's not even sure if he'll use regularly. Or maybe he has 7.8, or maybe he knows that saying "Yes you can get Instagram on the phone" in a store is better than saying "Well there's no official Instagram app but you can buy a pretty good one called Instance for 1.49.
  • or maybe he didn't know wp 8 is to replace wp 7.8 so in 1 to 2 years time wp7.8 is totally outdated like andriod 1.7.
    or maybe he didn't know instance is free also? not neccessary to buy at all?
    or maybe he just like to say no instagram official app
    or maybe i am just too free to be maybeing in this reply
  • What a stupid answer. Some people don't have upgrades yet and are stuck on 7.8
    Instance is not free without ads, Instagram is.
    Or maybe I own a Windows Phone and want it to do well.
    Not to mention official apps are more stable and less likely to break if the APIs are patched or changed.
    Are you that much of a fanboy?
  • Just not everyone, like iPhone users, know we have 3rd party Instagram apps, so they will be disappointed if it isn't "official". Instance is great though.
  • When did waze come out?
  • As well as Voxer!
  • Something tells me Daniel Gary is behind the second app...
  • i think its liquid daffui :), altho he seems busy enough with other stuff :P
  • Something tells me the same thing.... hehehe #secretproject
  • By something, do you mean his twitter account, where he has dropped several hints?  ;)
  • It is amazing how beautiful unofficial apps on Windows Phone can be.
  • And in the same time , its sad how windows phone lacks the official apps for most of the popular apps
  • Or as ugly as rats ass official apps made by Microsoft themselves?
  • WP/Metro apps have such a high continuity from app to app that's unique all by it self.  Sure a lot of IOS apps look similar, but the text elements make Metro stand out
  • Didn't MS make the awesome looking YouTube app (the recent update that is)?  You know, the one that Google got all in a tizzy about? :P
  • That then spurs devs to go above and beyond. See metrotube, itsdagram, baconit, gleek, 4th and mayor, etc.
  • even though they are good but apps are all about brand names , if the store lacks the original official brand name on its apps then its not even a store
  • Sad but not unexpected considering its actual marketshare.
  • means that there are basically no applications for a linux distribution - look at its market share 
  • thats not an excuse , it should be the other way around , it should be like 
    its has low marketshare because  it doesnt have enough official and popular apps  thats how we should put it.
  • Colbert interviewed these guys on his show a few months back, and he made them look like idiots(well, they made themselves look like idiots)
    This is a dumb app. Why would I want to see a pic for a sec and then have it be deleted.
    Maybe I'm getting old, bit this doesn't make any sense at all.
    It's just a dumb gimic, totally unworthy of any Windows phone.
  • Kids sexting.
  • +1
  • There it is.
  • Because someone might want to send you a picture of some melons. They might not want you keeping that picture of their melons on your phone. 
  • If this app existed for feature phones a decade ago, I wouldn't have some of my most memorable cell phone pics. LoL
  • I can do a screen shot and keep it.
  • It's really difficult to make the screemshot over it, you guys obviously have not try it. It is not just sexting, but joking in between friends. What you can easilly do is make a picture of your phone when the picture appears. Not that I would use it for sexting but you got a be dumb to believe you can use it for that without risk.
    And one of the funniest parts of Colvert Report are the interviews thus 90% or more of the people looks dumb.
     
  • Buy that's what a second Lumia or any other camera phone comes in to take the pic?
  • Thats dead vulgar man ! ;)
  • People can just be silly with it. I think people get too hung over how it is like sexting. Of course it will be like sexting if its already done with regular texting. But the vast majority of people I know use it to just send random photos or have "stupid pic" wars. Soooooo people need to chill out its just a fun way to kill time when ur bored.
  • That interview was great and this app sounds dumb. If you want to send naked pics then the receiver should be able to keep them.
  • ^Thank you! But so you know, I don't have this app so don't try to send me naked pics. lol
  • Don't worry dude, your mustache is far too awesome for my tastes.
  • Ha ha ha ha ha ha :D
  • "Get off of my lawn, ya dang kids!" "Turn down that rock n roll music, it's the devil's music!" "I don't get these new fangled apps, I bought a smartphone not an app phone!"
    Lol, but seriously you sound VERY old and out of touch with what reality is now.
  • Ha, I'm 33 and and you're very far from the truth. I just happen to know that this is a completely useless app. Thanks for the comment ;)
  • just like rock music, tv, pcs and the internet - just ask the 80+ generation
  • Was that an attempt to make sense? try again
  • The problem with " young people" is that everyone under a certain age believes that everyone over a certain age was never once a part of their group. While I am by no means old I remember being a teen and the people around me. Most people are using snapchat to send pics of their junk otherwise they wouldn't tout the privacy aspect of it.
  • SnatchSnap would be the appropriate name for the app.
  • +10
  • Omg so excited, this is fantastic news!!!! Now i will have all the apps i need!!!!
  • Not sure I like that "over twenty five" comment.. I'm 36 and I know what snap chat is.... So, Boooyaa!!. Lol!!
  • Also over 25 and don't give a swapshit over this snapshot snapchat... :P
  • Im 18 and never heard of it before
  • OMGWTFBBQYES! I'm so looking forward to this!
  • Awesome, very excited :)
  • i read swapchat can't send videos though due to wp API restrictions so will the official snapchat be able to do that ?
  • Maybe the GDR2 will do that...
  • didn't think of that....hope so
  • That is false. Swapchat can't send videos currently, but it's not due to a WP limitation.
  • WP doesn't have an API to access the video library. The only way to do it would be to record the video within the app instead of sharing a video you created before
  • That's how Snapchat works. You can't send pics or videos that you've taken before. That's the point..they are "in the moment" so it doesn't matter if WP doesn't provide that access.
  • Third party apps will always have their place so I'm glad we are getting two options plus the official.
  • Any news on when the new whatsapp gonna be available for update?. The current one is just terrible cant live with it any longer and I use Whatsapp extensively.
  • No details, sorry. 
  • Hi Daniel great story on snap chat. I have been trying to reach you and have emailed replied and tweeted you about if you could possibly do a story on how we are seriously missing a SIRIUSXM app for windows phone, I myself am in quite a predicament as I can no longer listen to Howard at work because even the 3rd party apps are broken. best wishes!
  • It's been looked into and the encryption is just too difficult to crack. So chances of an unofficial app? Unlikely, sorry.
  • Do you have an old ios or android phone or mp3 player? If so, just use that. I have a galaxy player 4" that I usually bring along for situations like that. It may suck to have to carry around two devices, but most people do that anyway with a tablet and phone. It's my stop gap until WP gets just a few more apps I want.
  • Thanks. I was hoping you would have some info . Its a shame that i can't recommend any of my friends to switch coz they see how terrible the whatsapp is on WP8 when i am using it. Hopefully it will get fixed soon :)
  • The story on iOS isn't much better.
    Whatsapp UI on iOS is far far worse than its Windows Phone counterpart. I think it's slightly more responsive though.
     
    Whatsapp on Android is really good though.
  • Finally, there will be no more obstacles to convince my friends and family that Windows Phone is superior.  With all of the major apps catching up, I think it will be taken to very kindly.  Snapchat and Instagram are a huge step forward for the device, even if you're not a fan of either!
  • And to be clear, there are uses OTHER than sexting for snapchat. My siblings used it to send funny moments during the day to each other.
  • Daniel (the Rubino one): in another article, in the comments, you said that at least one app of the list that someone made was coming to WP... Was Snapchat??
    And, in other comment you also said that 2 big apps will be released together with 2 phone releases, one in the middle of June and other at the beginning of July. Is Hisptamatic (in June, with the Lumia 925) and Snapchat (in July, with the EOS)??
  • Dang. You have a good memory. Just stay tuned to Windows Phone Central :)
  • Just a little bit Sam. :)
     
    I always dig into the comments to look for something "interesting"...  
  • Hah, indeed one was Snapchat. The other one is *not* Hipstamatic. As Yoda said, there is another... Stay tuned.
  • I certainly will stay tuned. :)
  • So, is this some sexting app or something?
  • Aha! Over 25 detected!! Lol
  • Haha. Way over 25.
  • LOL!
  • Lol this guy....
  • Will we be able to snapchat with ppl who have the app on apple ir android
  • Yes, of course.
  • Can I download The Swapchat Beta somewhere and test it :)!?
  • Is it going to be avaible for WP7.x users?
  • +1
  • So, when are you due for an upgrade?
  • I don't have the obligation to change my device every month
    You have a WP8 device? Great. But I don't. And you're not upper because of it
  • Chill out dude.
  • Lol the thing is that I'm sick of these people saying the same thing evertyime 
  • It's culture.... i guess
  • +1
  • +7.8
  • It was just a question. Sorry I asked. I'm going to go drown myself now.. I'm sorry I was ever born!!
  • Yes, it will work on 7.x
  • GREAT!!
    Thank u
  • Snapchat coming is just terrific.. Just terrific,,, just terrific....
  • I just read the other day how these pictures can be recovered with Jailbroken phones. Here's an interesting quote from the article I read:  Orem-based firm Decipher Forensics said it has derived a method to extract the supposedly no-longer-viewable images and pass them on to parents, lawyers and law enforcement.
    "The actual app is even saving the picture," said Richard Hickman, a digital forensics examiner. "They claim that it's deleted, and it's not even deleted. It's actually saved on the phone." On average, he said, it takes about six hours, but most of the time is spent simply imaging the phone's data. I know that's not referring to Windows Phones, but the very idea that these pictures are deleted off the phone may not be accurate, and that's a little worrisome. They've already made a website made up entirely of leaked photos.
  • That's how it is for all flash memory. The data isn't actually wiped from storage, it's simply made unavilable from the file system. With specialized data retrieval software it's possible to recover this "deleted" information considering it was fairly recent and hasn't been overwritten.
    The reason for this is that flash memory has a finite amount of times that it can be written onto, so instead of writing over the file with blank memory to delete it, by design to use less writes it leaves the data there but marks it as free space to be overwritten as you continue to save things. This essentially cuts the amount of times you write onto the memory in half, and thus increasing the life of the flash drive.
    All files you delete will technically still be on your phone for a good while after deleting them, whether it be an audio file, camera photo, or Snapchat video. It's just the media trying to put a spin on something that's been norm since the beginning to make it sound like something bad.
  • Well the main issue the article discussed was Snapchat's claim that snaps "disappear forever" in the app description, which was also the focus of the EPIC's complaint to the FTC. It may be media "spin," but I'm guessing most users of Snapchat don't know how drives manage data, so consumer awareness is also important here.