April Fools' Day is a goldmine of pranks, jokes, and gags crafted by people all walks of life, even large, multinational companies, and that includes Silicon Valley. Google, for instance, has turned its Maps into playable Ms. Pac-Man courses. Amazon made an Alexa service for pets. The question is, who won?
Some are already calling it: Snapchat has won this year's April Fools' Day pranks for its take on Facebook's many attempts to copy the photo messaging app. The prank involves a new filter that evokes the all-too-familiar Instagram user interface, complete with a heart icon for likes and the square photo in the middle, and it's being regarded as the much-needed jab at Facebook Snapchat has so far failed to give, considering that it has largely remained mum on that topic.
Facebook's Many Attempts To Copy Snapchat
It was in August of last year when Facebook started copying Snapchat's main features and adapting it into its own ecosystem. First up was Instagram, with the addition of "Stories," a similar ephemeral feature the Facebook-owned photo-sharing service baked into its app. Even Instagram's CEO said that Snapchat deserves credit for the format, so there's that.
Then Facebook duplicated the feature and ported it to other services, equipping its Messenger platform with "Messenger Day," then putting the same feature on WhatsApp, and then the Facebook app itself.
In spite of the none-too-subtle attempts to copy Snapchat, the company hasn't formally addressed it, save for a sharply worded reproach by Miranda Kerr, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel's partner.
Snapchat's April Fools' Day Prank Parodies Instagram
So for April Fools' Day, Snapchat has retaliated, albeit in an underhandedly smug way. To be clear, the prank is in the form of a filter, not a lens, so it can only be applied after the user takes a photo.
Pop one in, swipe a few times, and take a gander at the eerily similar Instagram user interface, but instead of "Instagram" plastered atop, it says Snapchat. It even comes with three laughing-while-crying emoji — to signify Snapchat's derision, perhaps? It's clever, regardless. Also note the bonus "my_mom" username who liked the photo.
Other Snapchat News
On a slightly different note, Snapchat just enabled a Search feature on the Our Stories section of its service, devoted to helping users find content for a wide range of themes. Currently rolling out to select U.S. cities, the feature lets users pick a specific theme — such as puppies, sports games, events — and comb the world for related Stories. This way, the Snapchat experience is expanded from being a chiefly ephemeral photo-sharing service to a global tool for looking into other people's experiences.
The move lines up with Snap Inc.'s IPO plans to enrich the user experience instead of focus heavily on increasing Snapchat's user base. Simply put, Spiegel and company are opting to bolster quality instead of aggressively campaign for quantity. It remains to be seen, however, whether this plan will ferry its stint favorably on the New York Stock Exchange as a public company.
Have you tried Snapchat's new Instagram-inspired filter? Any thoughts about this April Fools' Day prank? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!