Facebook iOS 7

Facebook is working on a new mobile application for video and ephemeral messaging, according to a report from the Financial Times. The outlet says the app is being referred to as ‘Slingshot’ internally, and is intended to go head-to-head with Snapchat.

Snapchat rejected an acquisition offer from Facebook last year worth some $3 billion, explaining that it wanted to hold out for more money. The social network has since bought messaging giant WhatsApp, but it obviously still feels that something’s missing…

Here’s more from the Financial Times:

Facebook has been working for several months on the app, known internally as Slingshot, with a simple and speedy user interface, according to people familiar with its plans. 

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief, has been overseeing the top-secret project after failing to woo Snapchat’s creators Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy with a $3bn takeover offer late last year. 

The app allows users to send short video messages with just a couple of taps of the screen. Slingshot could be launched this month, one person said, while cautioning that Facebook might still decide not to proceed with the product. 

Facebook first tried to take on Snapchat in late 2012 with Poke, an app that duplicated its rival’s formula with photos and videos that disappeared after 10 seconds. It unfortunately couldn’t duplicate Snapchat’s success; Facebook pulled the Poke app last week.

Snapchat-flashy-features

According to FT, ‘Slingshot’ will be a far more concerted effort. The report suggests that, should it launch, Facebook would be confident enough in the app to launch it standalone from its primary and Messenger clients, which both sit atop Apple’s US App Store.

Some folks may wonder why Facebook is still so concerned with building a Snapchat competitor, given that it just paid a lot of money for WhatsApp. The answer is that Snapchat still has a significant lead in an area where Facebook is struggling: teen engagement.

The Financial Times says the ‘Slingshot’ app could launch as early as this month.