Snapchat has always had a messaging component—it lets you send and save self-destructing text-and-emoji and picture messages, and it included a video-chatting feature. But from a user perspective, the messaging always felt like an afterthought. Chat 2.0, as its new update is called, seeks to fix this. Now, Snapchat lets you make voice calls and send audio and video messages within Chat, and it has its own private video-call service, in which users can choose who they want to talk to and start shooting video. Each guest can chime in with his or her own audio or video response, or simply text back. In addition, the new update introduces a set of stickers users can add to their messages, and autoplay for Snapchat Stories. And don’t forget that Snapchat just bought Bitstrips, a Canadian start-up that makes sets of strangely realistic-looking emoji, presumably to introduce Bitstrips’ product Bitmoji into its messaging services.
By doubling down on messaging, Snapchat is finally going toe-to-toe with WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, its two largest rivals in the space. But it's also a larger play for social-media domination, by creating an in-app ecosystem designed to keep users inside Snapchat for as long as possible. Need to make a phone call, check the news, read an article, or text someone? You no longer have to leave Snapchat to do any of it.