Snapchat yesterday launched its biggest update yet, which added disappearing texts and instant video calls to the ephemeral messaging service. The update seems to have gone over well with some of the app's highly engaged teenage user base. High school teacher Tracie Schroeder tweeted that her classroom nearly descended into anarchy after students got the update.
In 16 years of teaching I can't think of anything that has ever disrupted my classroom more than today's @snapchat update.— Tracie Schroeder (@bravesearth) May 1, 2014
She elaborated to Business Insider:
"Today was the first day in a long time I actually took phones away. I have no idea what all was included in the update, but you would have thought it was crack. They seriously could not keep away from it. I even had one girl crawl under the table with her phone."
The teens' Beatlemania-esque response seems to say that Snapchat has almost taken on a cult-like status among certain groups. But the uproar also says something more about Snapchat's future. Most social sites today have one or two features that people really love and struggle to add new ones. Instagram's new Instagram Direct messaging service, for example, didn't make much of a splash. Snapchat, on the other hand, has a pretty solid track record thus far of adding new features without detracting from its core use case, and without losing its cool.
The school blocked snapchat— Kori✌️ (@kmchesson96) May 2, 2014
Stories, the company's second-most recent product update, let users take photos and videos as they go about their day and share them with all of their friends. Stories sees 500 million views per day, Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel recently told me. It remains to be seen if Snapchat can keep up its breakneck pace, but based on today's public reaction, we might only be getting started when it comes to seeing Spiegel's trademark ephemeral alchemy applied to new social products and contexts. Don't count on downloading the next Snapchat update over your school's Wi-Fi, however.
Snapchat gets me through school.— Casey Cook (@caseydcook) May 2, 2014
"For quite awhile now, kids have had a real anxiety about being separated from their phone," Schroeder said, "But today, it was near panic. I am hoping by tomorrow some of the novelty will have worn off and we can get back to business."