Web versions

Snapchat for web has…problems

The social communication, creative and entertainment app Snapchat is now available on the Web. This is an important and fascinating mobile-to-web reverse migration that could help the company kick-start its growth and expand its impact.

At least, theoretically.

While snapchat.com is up and running, theoretically enabling chat, screenshot, and video calling based on the Snapchat platform, it doesn’t work for everyone. Including me.

First, Safari is not supported. It’s not a huge shock; although I use Safari quite frequently, along with Chrome and (occasionally) Firefox, there is a strange website designed just for Chrome.

But neither does Chrome, apparently. When I tried to log into my Snapchat account through Chrome, the website apparently got confused, telling me that the “mobile app version” I was using was too old and “the version of Snapchat on your personal device is not supported”.

The fix: Update the app, i.e. Chrome on my desktop, to the latest version from the App Store. It seems impossible.

Apparently I’m not alone. “Darth Turner”, a product user experience designer, had a similar experience and suggested “We’re seriously into Internet Explorer territory now.” In the early days of the Internet, as old school surfers like me will remember, nearly every website was built for Microsoft’s near-ubiquitous Internet Explorer browser, which meant a lot of things broke whether you were using Netscape or another web browser.

Another Twitter user, Jeshan, tweeted Snapchat support saying “Snapchat web won’t load my chats. It shows the camera with my face but there is a loading symbol where the chats should be. Please make a correction.

We can probably give the Snap team that builds Snapchat for the web a break.

The product is available, but not yet officially announced as such — there’s no press release on the companies’ site — so maybe there’s still some work to be done. Also, Snap is doing something really cool here: taking a well-known and popular app and making its functionality available on a website. It’s a bit the reverse of what we’ve come to expect over the past decade, with so much innovation moving from web to mobile, but it’s welcome.

Typing, for example, is simply easier and faster on a computer.

And if you’re working on a laptop and need to message, getting to snapchat.com is easier than finding your phone, picking it up, unlocking it, opening the app Snap, then send the message.

So I hope Snap fixes all these bugs.

But it’s a bit of an inauspicious start.