Snapchat Comes Around To Embrace Group Chat

Snapchat users can now exchange messages within groups of up to 16 people, satisfying one of the biggest demands from the app's community.

Snapchat maker Snap Inc. had avoided group chat for several years because one of its core features is making people think through to whom they are sending a message. Recipients of direct messages had to be selected one by one. But many people consider Snapchat their primary means of communication, and the lack of a group chat functionality forced them to use Messenger, Hangouts and other competing apps from time to time.

On Tuesday, Snap simplified things. The Venice company will allow users to create group chatrooms, where messages self-destruct after 24 hours by default.

The app won't bombard users with push notifications for every message, which could make for a more streamlined experience compared to other apps. The messages could be text, voice, graphics or video.

Snap says its take on group chats maintains the intimacy of the original Snapchat experience because there's transparency about who's online in the chatroom and what they're reading, saving and screen-grabbing.

Snapchat's latest update also brings three new tools, though they may not all show up immediately for all users. One saves a portion of an image as a digital sticker that can be overlaid on future messages. Another adds a paintbrush effect to saved images. And the third uses technology from Shazam to identify songs playing in the background on the app's camera screen.

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