Slingshot, Facebook's new photo messaging app, is ready to sling its shots all the way around the world. When the app was first launched on June 17 just a few select places were able to try it, primarily the United States. Facebook has announced that Slingshot is ready to go worldwide.
Slingshot is Facebook's answer to popular photo-sharing/messaging app Snapchat, enabling users to send images and video instantaneously while not keeping a long-term log of what's been sent. Users can draw doodles atop their photos, but received messages will last no more than 30 days. Optional location services let you see the city where a photo was taken, and there's a day-and-time stamp, too.
Slingshot's big twist is that sharing between users has to be mutually desired. When someone sends you an image, you have to "slingshot" a photo of your own back to them before the picture they sent you is unlocked as viewable. If you never send a reply, you never see what the other user sent you.
In a striking change from its typical corporate strategy, Facebook branded Slingshot as its own service with no Facebook branding at all. Users who aren't paying close attention may never even realize that Slingshot is a Facebook app.
Slingshot's friend finder doesn't even use Facebook friend lists. Instead, it uses your address book's phone numbers to connect you to your friends. Critics claim the company is distancing itself from Slingshot due to Facebook's past failures with mobile apps like Poke and Facebook Camera.
The social network has had much better results with its most recent app, Paper. This attractive, useful app turns your friend feed into a news reader with a Flipboard-style magazine interface. Much like the unique twist that Facebook gave Paper, the company should be credited with not merely churning out a Snapchat clone in this case. The mutual connection principle is a clever and original idea, but it remains to be seen if it will be enough to help the app catch on. Facebook pitched Slingshot as "a space to share everyday moments with lots of people at once." Which, if you think about it, is pretty much what Facebook is.