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December 18, 2012

Facebook to Debut App Similar to Snapchat

Facebook is in the testing phase for a new app with Snapchat-esque abilities, according to AllThingsD.

Sources told AllThingsD the app, which is being built in-house, will be unveiled by the end of the month.

With Facebook loosely modeling its new app on Snapchat, it too, in one form or another, will be used to send photo messages with a time limit.

With Snapchat, for instance, users can take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to fellow users. Users can set a time limit for how long recipients can view their photos, up to 10 seconds. The message then disappears.

The sources said when users open Facebook’s app, a list of current message threads between the user and his or her friends will be displayed.

“Hold your finger down on one of the threads, and a timer comes up to ask how long the message should be viewable. From there, you’re able to send the message — which, just like on Snapchat, will only be viewable for a fixed period of time,” the AllThingsD report says.

The new Facebook app will remain separate from the main Facebook app, much like its other standalone apps: Messenger and Camera. Including Instagram, this will bring the social network’s app total to five.

The new app is yet another move by Facebook to place its focus on mobile.

Facebook kicked-off its mobile campaign with is acquisition of Instagram in April. The purchase, which was finalized in September, cost the social network a whopping $750 million in cash and shares.

Instagram, a mobile-only photo-sharing app, had 30 million users at the time of purchase in April. In September Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that number had grown to 100 million.

Facebook has also recently made its Messenger app available to all, even non-Facebook members. People can now sign up for the app using just their name and phone number.

The roll out began on Android in select countries —India, Australia, Indonesia, Venezuela, and South Africa — Dec. 4 and will go international in the coming weeks. Messenger for iOS also is coming soon, Facebook announced.

The move is a bid to broaden the social network’s appeal for those who are not Facebook users.

It also makes Messenger more competitive with SMS, which just turned 20 this week, and other third-party messaging services such as WhatsApp, which only requires a phone number to sign up.

The social network’s focus on mobile is paying off. According to an October study by Sterne Agee, Facebook Mobile is gaining in popularity with 61 percent of users having the Facebook mobile app. Of these, 64 percent access it at least once a day.