Snapchat’s best feature, on a purely shallow level, is its filters. Yes, the fleeting nature of snaps encourages a truer, more authentic documentation of life in real-time than moments carefully curated on Instagram. But girl, look how good you look in that flower crown lens!
Snow is a Korean Snapchat clone (created by Korean company Naver, the developer behind LINE messenger) that rips off Snapchat’s features in virtually every way, down to the dog filters. It’s practically the same app, except its creators focused the features on taking selfies — so much so, that tab after tab is filled with filters that’ll put a Pomeranian on your head, make you look like an anime character, or add K-pop stars to the screen to harass your face. If Snapchat filters are like a three-course meal on your lunch break, Snow's filters are like an all-you-can-eat buffet with no time limit, and you can take your leftovers home.
Besides these wacky filters, other features include a GIF maker (similar to Instagram’s Boomerang), and 72-hour stories (as opposed to Snapchat’s stories, which disappear after 24 hours). Because who has time to go through and keep up with all of their friends’ stories? Snow’s chat feature, which saves messages for up to 24 hours, also makes way more sense than Snapchat’s, where each message disappears after you’ve opened it. This is great because I am an Old, and too often I find myself opening context-less messages on Snapchat and replying, "Ok sry what were we talking about??? lol."
The app has had roughly 30 million downloads in Asia alone since its release in September, but it’s hard to imagine the app taking off elsewhere. Much of its popularity in China can be attributed to the absence of its greatest competitor; Snapchat is blocked from the country.
Even if you don’t use Snow as a social media service, it’s still a useful tool for Snapchat users. Because Snapchat now allows users to post snaps from their phone’s camera roll, you can create a video in Snow, save it to your phone, and upload it into Snapchat. This is how most my own Korean friends seem to be using the app anyway. Snow seems to be aware of this in some way. Share buttons to Instagram and Facebook pop up after you take a photo, which feels like an admission: "We know this app is never going to overtake Snapchat, but in the meanwhile, make sure to show all your friends this filter that turns your face into a fried egg." Also, by the likes of its name on the App Store — "SNOW - Selfie, Motion sticker, Fun camera" — it’s clear the focus is more on being a nifty camera app than a social network.
If you want to watch a display of excellent Snow usage the way the developers hoped you'd use it, check out their very good ad below.