Facebook has launched a new app for iPhone and Android called Slingshot. This app is an extension of the Facebook brand on mobile devices and functions as a competitor to Snapchat. Snapchat is a mobile app that is popular with teenagers where users send ephemeral content to each other.
Slingshot lets users share what they are doing with a group of friends. You can take a photo or short video and then add text, a drawing, or an emoticon. You can “sling” it to your friends after that. Those friends will have to sling something back to see it. After receiving a photo, you can reply or swipe the image and then it disappears.
Apparently, Snapchat turned down a $3 billion offer from Facebook last year. Facebook ended up spending $19 billion to acquire popular messaging app WhatsApp. WhatsApp has more than 500 million users. Last year, Facebook launched an app called Poke, which was an attempt to compete with Snapchat. Facebook ended up shutting down that app.
Slingshot is the second app that launched out of Facebook’s Creative Labs, which is a program where employees take creative risks and speeds up innovation at Facebook. There are small teams that work at Creative Labs that experiments with apps. Another app that came out of Creative Labs is a news reader app called Paper.
You sign up with Slingshot with your phone number and do not need a Facebook account just like the way WhatsApp works. Facebook temporarily released the app in some countries, but took it down again last week.
Facebook product designer Joey Flynn came up with the idea for Slingshot as an alternative to using text messaging as a way to stay in touch with his two brothers that live in L.A. Flynn worked with Rocky Smith and Will Ruben at a Facebook hackathon in December. All of them now work on Slingshot full-time. Now 10 people are working on the app.