The market is absolutely flooded with social network apps and services, to the point where it seems like we don’t have room for any new ones in our lives—or our phones, for that matter. But Snapchat has fallen easily into the lives of so many people, particularly teens, young adults, and twenty-somethings, and it’s easy to see why. Unlike other social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, Snapchat offers an incredibly natural-feeling share service. You’re never scared to send something to someone in Snapchat because, unless the photo or video is screenshotted, it’ll disappear once it’s been looked at and played. And while plenty of snaps are saved and screenshotted on phones, most users understand that not every snap can or should be saved. This feeling of disposable media is something not found in any other social service on the market, where most users are taught that everything you do will follow you forever.
Since its massive success, Snapchat hasn’t rested on its laurels. Instead, it’s kept active, delivering new features and redesigning the app to be more useful and easier for newcomers to the service. And while some of the new features have been related to Snapchat’s core promise of simple, instant photo-sharing, Snap Inc. (the parent company to Snapchat) has added plenty of other functionality too, including a video chat service similar to Facetime, Google Duo, or Skype. Video chatting within Snapchat makes it really easy to communicate instantaneously, without the long wait times associated with those other video chat apps.
Truthfully, it can also be a bit difficult for new Snapchat users to find out exactly how to use this service. If you’re ready to start video chatting with your Snapchat friends but you aren’t sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place! Let’s take a look at how the feature works on Snapchat.
Setting Up Video Calls on Snapchat
Believe it or not, video chatting through Snapchat’s actually been around since 2014, and along with text chat, the feature rolled out over three years ago. Since then, Snapchat has added a ton of functionality to the video portion of their service—notably, sticker support for videos, and making it easier to chat without having to hold your finger down to chat with your friends.
Because Snapchat has gone the extra mile in making sure their app a bit more streamlined than it used to be, video chatting has become incredibly easy. In fact, you’ve probably seen the option for video chatting with a friend dozens of times without realizing it. Maybe you’ve even hit the icon and accidentally started a video call with another person! Regardless, it’s actually really easy to do, and we’re going to show you how. This is on the Android version of the app, but the iOS version is nearly identical in interface and design, so these steps should be clear regardless of smartphone operating system affiliation.
First and foremost, make sure you’re running the most current version of the Snapchat app on either your iPhone or Android device. For both platforms, as of June 2017, the newest version is Snapchat 10.11.1, though this will understandably change throughout the next few months as newer versions get pushed out with brand new and updated features. Your friends on Snapchat should also ensure they’re updated to the newest version. Both Android and iOS have supported auto-updating apps for some time now, so you should run into too many problems getting your friends ready to go for some video chats.
Next, head into the app on your device. Once the camera interface is loaded, swipe from left to right to open the chat interface on your phone. This will display every Snapchat user you’ve communicated with, from most to least recent, along with an icon showing what form of communication you had with them. Swipe to the right on the list of person you wish to chat with. If you haven’t yet communicated with someone through Snapchat that you want to video chat with, tap the “New Chat” icon in the top-right of your display.
Video Call Options in Snapchat
Once you’re in the conversation display, you’ll see a list of icons you can use to communicate with your friend. From left to right:
- Gallery: Send an image from your gallery of photos and saved images.
- Call: Voice call your friend over Snapchat
- Snap: Opens the Snap camera display in order to allow a new snap to be composed and sent to your friend.
- Video Call: Begins a video call with your friend
- Stickers: Here, you’ll find your Bitmoji, stickers, cut-outs, and anything else you can use to communicate within Snapchat.
Obviously, we’re looking for video chat, so go ahead and tap the video icon to get started. If your friend is available and able to answer your request to video chat, they’ll receive two options on their end: watch and join. If your friend selects “Watch,” they’ll be allowed to see what you’re up to and what you’re doing from your phone, without you seeing their face or hearing them speak. If they choose “Join,” the chat will act like a standard video chat, with both users able to see and hear each other.
While you’re in video chat mode, you can also send chats (complete with emojis and stickers), enable lenses to activate every standard Snapchat filter, and even minimize the video call by sliding your finger down on your display. To make the call large again, simply swipe back up from the bottom of your display. During a video call, you can also turn off the video feed from your end by tapping the video camera icon highlighted in green. Tapping the icon again will let you resume video on your end of the conversation. And of course, you have the option to mute audio by tapping on the phone icon shown in green. To unmute yourself on a video call, tap on the phone icon one more.
One last note on video calls: while it’s great to reach your friend during the day to talk or show them what you’re up to, it’s not always a perfect solution. If your friend is busy or doesn’t have their phone on them, you can use Snapchat to leave them a video note, which functions like a visual voicemail. When Snapchat displays your friend isn’t available, click and hold the video icon to leave a video note. When you release your finger from the display, the note will automatically send.
Snapchat’s a really great communication app, for everything from simple photos and videos to disposable phone and video calls, chat messages, stickers, and more. In a lot of ways, it’s no surprise the app caught on as well as it did—it’s incredibly innovative and easy to use, even if some of its most advanced features are often hidden away inside a menu. Still, we’re big fans of Snapchat’s featureset, as it makes an incredibly useful utility to keep on your phone. For all of its bugs and strange quirks, no one is doing photo and video sharing faster or better than Snapchat—and the extra bells and whistles like video calls are simply icing on the cake.