To Facebook, Poke was always "more of a joke" than anything else — so why did the company leave it in the App Store for more than a year after its troubled debut? We may never know, but today, Facebook finally put an end to Poke. If you check the App Store for Facebook's famed Snapchat clone, you won't find it. Facebook also took the opportunity, seemingly, to remove Camera, its photo uploading app. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the removals to The Verge, but provided no further comment.
Facebook Camera for iPhone
It's no mystery why Facebook pulled Poke without so much as a goodbye blog post. The app likely served as a constant reminder that it takes more than a few talented engineers to beat Snapchat, one of Facebook's increasingly important rivals. Poke was in fact far more functional than the often-glitchy Snapchat when it launched in December 2012, and included more features — but likely failed for a variety of reasons, ranging from Facebook's "open" public perception to the simple fact that Snapchat got to "ephemeral messaging" first. Facebook spent 12 days building Poke, the story goes — the app was clearly not a big priority for Facebook — but that didn't stop members of the press from repeatedly reminding Zuckerberg (who provided the voice for Poke's alert sound) of the app's failure as time went on.
Poke likely served as a reminder that it takes more than a few talented engineers to beat Snapchat
Camera, on the other hand, was a largely well-regarded app that was at one point used to upload multiple photos to Facebook. Prior to Camera's launch, you could only pick photos one by one to upload from a smartphone. Camera's attractive image picker eventually made its way into Facebook's main app on both iPhone and Android, where you can still find it today, and formed part of the foundation for Facebook's native iPhone app launch in summer 2012.
As Facebook dives headfirst into its Creative Labs exploration, a group of small teams that will build standalone apps for Facebook, the company seemingly wanted to bury its past, experimental attempts at "unbundling." Paper, the first app to come out of Creative Labs, sets a very high bar for upcoming releases. Will Creative Labs ever let you Poke again? Don't count on it. Facebook's poke function on the web, however, is still alive and awkward.