Snapchat launches Stories, 24-hour photo and video sharing

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Snapchat is expanding beyond its signature here-and-gone media sharing philosophy with the introduction of Stories, a new timeline feature enabling users to compile photos and videos that may be viewed an unlimited number of times over a 24-hour period.

Snapchat enables users to capture images (a.k.a. "snaps") and clips with their smartphone, overlay a text message and transmit the image to friends. In the past, content was available to the recipient for a pre-determined viewing period between just one and 10 seconds, and then permanently deleted from both smartphones and from Snapchat's servers. Stories lends some permanence to the Snapchat experience.

"Snapchat Stories add snaps together to create a narrative," Snapchat explains. "When you add a snap to your Story it lives for 24 hours before it disappears, making room for the new. Your Story always plays forward, because it makes sense to share moments in the order you experience them. Your Story never ends and it's always changing. The end of your Story today is the beginning of your Story tomorrow. And each snap in your Story includes a list of everyone who views it."

Snapchat is simultaneously updating its iOS and Android apps to support Stories, signaling the first time the company has synchronized software upgrades for the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) platforms.

Stories sets Snapchat apart from Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter and other rival social media platforms by removing the pressure to compose a narrative, CEO Evan Spiegel told The Verge. "There's this weird thing that happens when you contribute something to a static profile," he said. "You have to worry about how this new content fits in with your online persona that's supposed to be you. It's uncomfortable and unfortunate." Spiegel hopes that "live profiles" that self-destruct after 24 hours will liberate users to behave more like their true selves.

Snapchat users are now sharing more than 350 million photos each day, increasing from 200 million in June 2013, Spiegel said last month. This summer the firm completed a Series B financing round totaling $80 million, vaulting its valuation to a reported $800 million.

For more:
- read this Snapchat Blog post
- read this Verge article

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