Social communication, creation, and entertainment app Snapchat is now available on the web. It’s a significant and fascinating mobile-to-web reverse migration that could help the company kickstart growth and broaden impact.
At least, theoretically.
While snapchat.com is up and running, theoretically enabling chatting, snapping, and video calling based on the Snapchat platform, it’s not working for all. Including me.
First of all, Safari is not supported. That’s not a huge shock; though I use Safari quite frequently, along with Chrome and (occasionally) Firefox, there is the odd website that is built just for Chrome.
But neither, apparently, is Chrome. When I tried to log into my Snapchat account via Chrome, the website seemingly got confused, telling me that the “mobile app version” I was using was too old, and that “the version of Snapchat on your personal device is not supported.”
The solution: update the app — in other words Chrome on my desktop — to the latest version from the App Store. That seems impossible.
Apparently I’m not alone. “Darth Turner,” a product user experience designer, had a similar experience and suggested “we’re seriously in Internet Explorer territory now.” In the early days of the internet, old-school surfers like me will remember, almost all websites were built for Microsoft’s near-ubiquitous Internet Explorer browser, meaning that many things broke if you used Netscape or another web browser.
Another Twitter user, Jeshan, tweeted Snapchat support saying “Snapchat web won’t load my chats. It shows camera with my face but there is a loading symbol where the chats should be. Please make a fix.”
We can probably give the Snap team building Snapchat for the web a break.
The product is available, but not officially announced as such yet — there’s no press release on the companies’ site — so perhaps there’s work to be done still. Also, Snap is doing something significantly interesting here: taking a well-known and popular app and making its functionality available on a website. It’s a bit of a reversal of what we’ve come to expect over the past decade, with so much innovation moving from web to mobile, but it’s a welcome one.
Typing, for instance, is just easier and faster on a computer.
And if you’re working on a laptop and need to send a message, tabbing over to snapchat.com is easier than finding your phone, picking it up, unlocking it, opening the Snap app, and then sending the message.
So I’m hopeful that Snap will work out all these bugs.
But it’s a bit of an inauspicious start.